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dr>y book, rridp, chart, picture, 
eoQidving, ildlue. coin, model, 
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The Lure of Gunfire and the Enemy Within 
B}' Scott Anderson 


Kwanzaa Bestows : e Gifts of Therapy 
B}' Gerald Early 


BISHOPS HOUSE i „,,,.^g^ 

A story by Mary Gordon \ ^^^^^^ , 


The Literary Estahlishment Descends on T S. Eliot 

By Vince Passaro 

Also: Luc Sante, Daniel Harris, Gary Aldrich 

Mli 9 

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FOUNDED IN 1850 / VOL. 294, NO. 1760 


Reconceiving conception 


La vie boheme 

Harper's Index 


Literature's Great Divide 

Catfight on the Far Right 

Bosnia's Alternate ReaUty 

Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner 

The Diva in DecUne 

A Date with the Family 


And . . . 


The lure of gunfire and the enemy within 


Kwanzaa bestows the gifts of therapy 


The literary establishment descends on T. S. Eliot 



Nude scientists, giant sharks, bad vibes, and me 



Sallie Tisdale, Stephanie Wilson 


Lewis H. Laphmn 



Charles Baxter 

Gary Aldrich 

The U S. Embassy in Sarajevo 

Barbara Carlson , "Vic" 

Dariiel Harris 

Rep. ]im Ryun, Anne Ryim 

Luc Sante 

Yuri Marder, Christopher Howell, Donna Ferrato, 

"Driveways of the Rich & Famous" Recipe Booklet 


Scott Anderson 


Gerald Early 


Vince Passaro 


Mary Gordon 


Ptolemy Tompkins 

87 Thomas H. Middleton 

88 Richard E. Maltby]r. 

Cdvcr: Ph(itii)ri'aph hy Henri Burep:JSyf!ina 

ir|ii'r'.s Magazine is owned and published mcmthly hy the Harper's Magazine Hiundatiiin, 666 Broadway, New York, New York 1001 2. Allen Aiistill, Chairman. Copyright & 

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Lewis H. Lai-ham 

Deputy Editor 
Colin Harriscin 

MrtTUiging Editor 
Ellen Rosenbush 

Senior Editors 
Charis Conn, Paul Tough 

An Director 
Angela Riechers 

A.ssociaii; Editors 

Clara Jeffery, Benjamin Sanders Metlali . 
Jim Nelson, Alexandra RiNtiE 

Assistant Editors 
RixiER D. Hodge, Joel Lovell 

Ediional Assistant 
Susan Burton 

Assistant to the Editor 
Ann Kyle Gollin 


Michael Hsu, Ravi Krishna Mattu, 

Amy Suhroeder, Katja Shaye 

Contributing Editors 

Scott Anderson, L. J. Davis, 

Mark Edmundson, Darcy Frey, 

David GuTERSON, Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, 

Jack Hitt, Stephen Hubrell, Barry Lopez, 

Peter Marin, Vince Passaro, 

George Plimpton, Richard Rodriguez, 

David Samuels, Bob Shacochis, 

Earl Shorris, Shelby Steele, Sallie Tisiiale, 

David Foster Wallace, Tom Wolfe 

Michael Piillan, Eduor-at-Larji" 
Ji II in R. MacArthur, President and Publisher 

Vice President and Associate Publisher 
Peter D. Kendall 

Vice President and Genera/ Manager 
Jeanne Dubi 

Vice President, Circulation 
Lynn Carlson 

Vice President. Public Relations 
Sean McLaughlin 

Danielle Lisa DiMatteo, Circulation Manager 

Jennifer S. Greenhoot, Marfcenng Manager 

Assistant to the Publisher/ Rights and Repnnts 

Diane Kraft 

Kim Lai;, Sta// Accountant 

Receptionist / Advertising Assistant 

Noreen Assing 

Matthew Salamone, Staff 

Jennifer Lambert, Promotion Inteni 

Advertising Sales: 
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Direct Response / Classified Director 
Ronni Beth Siegel 

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Van Nc;uyEN, Production Manager 

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Soies Representatives 

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Fax: (214)9^-^74 

Iktrnif Albaum, Maiorana iSl Assoc ., 

(810) 546-2222; Fax: (810) 546-0019 


Reconceiving Conception 

As a woman sterile since undergo- 
ing a hysterectomy at the age of twen- 
ty-one, I approached Bob Shacochis's 
tale of infertility ["Missing Children," 
Octoher] with a jaded eye. As the 
mother of one child by birth and two 
by adoption, 1 read it with growing in- 
dignation and a sense of despair. 

1 wondered how Shacochis would, 
in the end, connect this frantic 
search for the "missing person" of a 
child with the "anguished attempt to 
conceive." 1 know exactly how it 
feels to be missing a child, to long 
for the person who isn't there — but 1 
also know that this pain, the child 
one seeks, and the animal act of re- 
production have nothing to do with 
one another. 1 have been pregnant; 
it was interesting, but it had nothing 
to do with my love for the baby who 
arrived that way. 1 know this because 
1 felt the same love for the babies 
who arrived the other way. Only the 
most unsophisticated belief about re- 
lations between parent and child 
make pregnancy essential. 

Shacochis doesn't see this. Instead, 
he spends acres of heavy prose telling 
us how much it hurts that he and his 
wife can't see past conception. They 
must "endure" the "appalling" physi- 
cal pain, the waiting, the costs, the 
sheer "hellishness" of being "persecut- 
ed" by yet another thin hope. He re- 
peatedly confuses the issue by pre- 
tending to have no choice in the 
matter. He isn't the only person to 
mistake infertility for childlessness, 
but it is nonetheless a terrible mistake. 

I had to stop reading and take a 

Harper's Magazine welcomes reader response. 
Please address coirespondence to Letters Edi- 
tor. Short letters arc more likely to be pub- 
lished, and all letters are subject to editing. Vol- 
ume piecluiles iitdividual acknowledgment. 


deep breath when 1 came to 
"Adoption was and always had 
our safety net, and we in fact coi 
ered it a second act, a sequel." e 
millions of unclaimed children in' 
world are no one's safety net. 
are lonesome human beings 
need their own safety net. I dl 
adopt out of some noble urge to 
a child; I adopted because I wai 
another child. And I found two 
dren who wanted a mother. We 
came a family, with varying shadi 
skin and hair and eye color, and 
all know how little such things 
ter. It is a simple miracle, but a ml 
cle all the same, and far more myl 
rious than the bloodless vials hi 
out by embryology. 

The obsession with genetic mai m 
ial and looking like one's family is 
root of much evil in an already ov 
crowded world. It is one of the r 
sons so many babies have no ho 
and many of them never will. Tl 
thousands of affluent Americans 
pouring what they claim to be k 
for babies down the drain of hi 
technology is one of the most pain 
u'onies of modern life. 

1 don't understand why we refi; 
to call the obnoxiously expensive 
fertility industry immoral. Surely 
can say, "Enough." ! 

Sallie Tisdale 
Portland, Ore. 

Thank you for yet another ess;' 
about a childless, lifeless couple u 
able to conceive. This miserable 
count of a pair of neurotic, ovel 
achieving yuppies reinforces twi 
stereotypes I thought we had left b j 
hind in the Fifties: that no wom^ 
can make any meaning out of her li 
without bearing a child, and that 
woman who has an abortion will ei 


ir orever a damaged psyche. 
I 3 Shacochis presents himself as 
rile husband who loves his wife 
tslte the fact that she cannot pro- 
id: him with the "immortahty" of 
,1 nr, but it is his own desire that 
u; .'s her, makes her feel unworthy, 
K npetent, an inferior wife. She is, 
ft, I all, the mate of a man who 
rf 'Is and whose solution to her 
liness is to provide her with a 
I so that he is relinquished of his 
n ional responsibility to her. Is it 
n A'onder that she is so miserable ? 
.iwhere in this article does Sha- 
lis mention what his wife does 
, , her life beyond lawyering and 
L .mg. Does she have hobbies, in- 
e 'ts, friends? Or is she just, as the 
goes, a life-support system for a 
ji us? The one piece of his wife's 
X that is shared with us is an ac- 
: It of her teenage abortion, which 
IS, fered up as the single event that 
dined her reproductive decision- 
■trlang from there on in. 

hacochis's wife should find some- 
il ig rewarding to do with her life, 
a a first step would be to get rid of 
t' c insensitive pig of a husband. 

C dy Rousseau 
5 vensville, Md. 

job Shacochis claims that "one 
I el of hell is exclusively reserved 
i the insurance companies," pre- 
J^nably because an HMO balked at 
) /ing for his wife's elective fertility 
: -gery. Why should we, as insur- 
. ce-premium payers, be funding 
tility games for 1-deserve-to-have- 
all baby boomers? Perhaps a level 
hell is reserved instead for spoiled 
liners like Shacochis and his wife. 
leen and Eric Constans 
ate College, Pa. 

There is more than a hint in Bob 
liacochis's "Missing Children" of 
le pampered child crying over a 
•oken toy, and 1 couldn't help feel- 
ig that the real anguish behind this 
tuple's experience with infertility 
as the realization that money can't 
uy everything. Shacochis writes 
lat the "woman I lived with and 
)ved" not only wanted "the freedom 
3 anchor herself in a career, she 
mply didn't wish to be pregnant." 


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The Measure of Reality is a brilliant, 
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Uiitc)rrun;irL'ly, MortiLT Nature, un- 
like a dcparnncnr store, does not re- 
spond to such whims; childhearin}^ 
simply becomes more difficult as a 
woman enters her thirties. Perhaps 
feminism has put mistaken emphasis 
on women fulfilling themselves 
through careerism while relegating 
more important experiences, such as 
motherhood, to the hack burner. 

Nadia Si'k'cr.s/iinc' 
Kenrfield, C:alif. 

When 1 v\as nineteen I became 
pregnant, and because my family's 
Catholicism was still an influence 1 
went through with the pregnancy ani.1 
put my baby (.laughter up tor adoption. 
She and I spent three lender days to- 
gether in my hospital room before I 
signed her away fiirewr. 

Boh Shacochis's essay sent me 
running to my filing cabinet fcir a 
collection of unmailed letters to tny 
baby, which 1 wrote o\er the first 
weeks of our separation. 1 had not 
read them in ele\en years and was 
overwhelmed by how young I sound- 
ei.1 (aiid was) and how painful it was 
for me to ha\e sex'ered our bond. 

1 had always thought that things 
were much easier for adoptive par- 
ents than for hioKigical parents who 
cannot keep their children; after all, 
the adopt i\-e parents get the baby in 
the end. But Shacochis's Imnesty 
showei.1 me that I had con\eniently 
faikxl to imagine ,i (.ouj^e tnust 
go through before deciding to adopt 
someiine else's chikl. Instead of the 
en\y and disdain that I had come to 
feel tor infertile (.oujiles, I found my- 
self grieving for them. 

When my luisbaiul and 1 attempt 
to conceix'e, I expect the process to 
stir ^oml.• long forgotten feelings and 
memoiies. And 1 think it will finally 
become thai those m the posi- 
tion of Sh.Kochis and his wife truly 
know what burdens |->regnancy, in its 
man\ forms, can unloose. 

Sh'l>h(i]\ic W i/>-iin 
Brooklyn, N.Y. 


ToiiN llendi.i's glowing article 
about bullfighting ("Man and Bull," 
No\ember| with its near beatitica- 
t ion of .mimal sl.ners eontaiiis 

b llARIM:irSM.\i;A/l\'I- /|ANl'.-\RV UWT 

strimg inertones ot repressed sexuali- 
ty and inert machismo — man pro\- 
ing himself at the expense of the 
"beast." Hoes I lentlra think it really 
matters to the bull that he is given 
his "nunnent of glory".' I'm sure that, 
gi\en a choice, the bull wi>uld 
choose a lijctiine oi dull moments 
over the terrifying, painful "moment 
ot glory" he experiences in the ring. 
No matter how extraordinary the ef- 
fort Ui drape it with the banners of 
culture, the bulls know the ring for 
the slaughterhouse it is. 

Jcnnijer O'dmnor 

Cruelty (Caseworker, PHTA 

Norfolk, Va. 

Tony Hendra argues that opposi- 
tion to bullfighting lacks merit be- 
cause the hulls are dangerous and the 
Spanish are confronting death by 
means of killing them. What, pray 
tell, has this to do with the tTU)rality 
of killing an animal rather slowly, 
while inflicting additional pain by 
means of "harpoon-pointed" bander- 
illas^ And what about the picador's 
horse, which, as Hendra remarks in 
pa.ssing, the bull "can be relied up- 
on — usually — to attack" ? 

Sorry, but as a means ot facing 
death bullfighting makes denial look 
pretty good. What's next — an analysis 
ot how wife beaters are confrtmting all 
our deepest anxieties about sex.' 

JuUinta Bcnai 
Brooklyn, N.Y. 

Censorship and Sensibility 

litn/icv's .Md.i^tcoic let its readers 
lIowii by reprinting a distortion-laden 
article by Marc I lerman ["The Bixik- 
Banning Racket," Readings, Octo- 
ber] about "Attacks on the Freedom 
to Learn," People for the American 
Way's annual repiirt on school cen- 
^orshi]"> and related challenges to 
public education. I am frankly ap- 
pallei.1 that you would publish what 
amounts to a rant by a disgruntlei.1 
ex-empKnee (Herman left our staff 
three \ears ago) withiuit making a 
single call to \erit\' its accuracy. 

The gist of I leniian's tale is that 
we at People for the .American Way 
somehow "cook" the numbers in 
"Attacks" so that we can claim e\ery 
year that censorship is getting worse. 


atul that reporters are duped bj, 
they're too la:y to verify what r' 
read or hear. If anyone at Hai iP* 
had bothered to check, the fals 
these allegations would have 1 
plainly evident. 

In the year in ciuestion, we re 
ed that the number of attem 
censorship incidents was a 
slightly. We reported the san 
this year's report, released in 
tember, as we have done in thtii 
the last four years. In all y F''"^ 
we also point out that broade 
tacks on public education havt 
creased, as right-wing polit 
groups shift the strategic foci 
their efforts to undermine the 
lie-education system. A clear e 
nation ot our methods appears it "' 
first pages ot our report and in 
press release, and is provided at 
press conference. A quote that 
man employs in an effort to ur 
mine our report actually support; 
tintlings: Halia Kandiyoti of the 
tional C Aialirion Against CensoJ 
says ot schoid censcirship, "It's' 
that it's getting worse, but it's ta 
different ft)rms." That's exactly '" 
conclusion of our report. 

Miirein'er, we print case studi 
every single incident we find;l 
year that Herman worked on th 
port, we identified 347 inciden 
attempted censorship, every or 
which is written up in case-s 
iorm right there in the report 
one who i.loubts our numbers 
count for himself. 

The censorship attempts d 
mented by the report are test in 
to the bruising ideological ha 
now under way for the future of 
lie education in America. Etfor 
get rid ot sex-education progr;| 
novels dealing with homosexu 
literature by African-Amer 
women, and the like are about sc 
thing broader than an attack on 
dom of expression and academi 
Ljuiry. They are about social con 
pla\ing out on a larger societa 
as well. 

"Attacks" is ime of the best-dittJ 
menteel reports published in Wh 
ington: we don't )ust claim a parl|) 
lar number ot iiicidents; we re ii 
them individually, state-by-st :t 
"Attacks" is meticulously researi.,. 


!!ainsral<in,u;ly lacl-cliockoJ. Al 
I'h it's not lahoraliMy siiciui', 
ippmach is (.-onsisU-nt Irom year 
■,\r: wo send qiioslionnaircs \o 
iitors, clip no\vs|iaprr ai.i.iiunls, 
olknv lip on any ollu'i loads \\c 
across. Wo ooiuliiol oxlotisixo 
rch to wooJ oiM iiuulonis ilial 
moot oiii' siaiulaiils lor iiu In 
istaiuiaiils that wo i\l,so spoil out 
e ro|X)rl. Aiul wo oonsisiontl\ 
out tiiat wo aro not jnox idini; ;i 
'prohoiisi\-o aoooiini ii\i; Imii 
•f a snapsliol ol \'oi\ ilisiinhinL; 
ity that challoii,L;os iniollooinal 
oin and tho into,L;iil\' ol piiMu 
ation. Ivoportors wlm \\:ini lo 
l< on oin JiH umoiil;il inn or lol 
lap on Uk.[\ sIoiios- anJ Jo:(,'n,s 
\'ofy yoar - aio uiv'on access lo 
resoaiclt lilos, inciiii.lin,!L; jiainos 
nuiubofs ol people involvoJ in 
; inciJonts. 

riis approach siaiuls in sharp con 
to the one l;ikon h\' Nii/na, iho 
ino magazine that lirst pulilishoi.l 
nan's distorted piece, ani.1, nnlor 
itely, hy the Ihirjh'v's editors who 
;e to reprint it. Not once did any^ 
Ifoni oilhoi piiMicalion lall Peo- 

ple tor the American Way to clieck a 
lact or (o see il am'thint!; wo niiuht 
say ahoiil the author's assoitions or 
his track lecoid as an employee hero 
mi.u'hl shed li!_;ht on the decision to 
piihlish his piece. In short, I lorman's 
chaises are untrue. I lo has liihru.itod 
or distorted his "oxidonce." Il the ai 
tide h;ul heen suhjoi led lo ;in\thin!_; 
appixxuhin^ the kind ol I;k i Ju\k 
in.u: we suhjecl our report to, it wouLI 
have come hack riddled with red ink. 

M(l((/u'U' /•'iVCIIhlll 
RosiMii h I "liiwloi , 

People lor the .\meiii,an \\ ay 
WashiiiLiton, 1 1( \ 

MiHc I (I'liihin )'cs/iiiiiils: 

laeeman inislakos n\\ ihaiL;e ol 
ilishonosty lor one ot slo|"ipiness. 1 
am not su^.yostini; that PFAW is less 
th.m metiiuKiiis in its lact i. heckini:^. 
I am sa\in.L; that iis data is oiyui- 
neered lo holster the j^roup's pre 
terred conclusioi\s. 

PFAW has .several statist leal cato 
.qories in its report ;md siion;;l\' em 
phasi:es tlu>se help thou case 
over those thai don't. Iho P^'-Hdrop 

in censorship that rn' noU-s in 
his lolloi, loi o\;iinple, weni lan^ely 
unmeni ionod in I hat year's report . 
I he si udy's inil i:il I iiulin;;, re, ids, 
",A 1 1 ai ks eoni inno to rise: ( 'lial - 
leni.',c'i s were more ;u I i\ c- in I he 
I ''"^'.^ ^1 ^ scho(d ye;ir t al any 
time in the olev'on yeai history ol 
I his leporl .... I'heso inciudi' H7 
cises ol iitlomptod censorship." Ihal 
llioio keen ^--IS die piexaous year 
IS not noted in the n'poit's e\eculi\'o 
summaiN' and onl\ hiielh iilliided to 
in tho \\h\\ ol the lopoii, ho^airse il 
would h;i\(' heen iihsiiid to claim so 
slronj^ly ".\it;uks lonliniio to 
rise" wlu-n iho mosi mipoiiani null 
cator — tho nnmhoi ol limes people 
tried to censoi hooks— esseni i;ilh 
siaxod tonst.ini, ,ind actually loll. 

We pla\ed I hose .yamos hocauso 
"Attiicks," like I'roeman's letter, is 
I nndameni .il l\ a pnhl i(. i okit ions 
doeument doslLjnod to hiL;hli,L;hl 
PPAW's a,L;end:i and i^lisciedit its ad 
inittedly ikHous (X)litical opposition, 
the roli.Ljious ri,uht. Those L',oals, how 
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La vie boheme 
By Lewis H. Laphmn 

Must artists are sincere and most art is 
had, and some insincere art (sincerely in- 
sincere) can be quite good. 

— Igor Stravinsky 


long ago, before the arrival ot 
the new information order, when ap- 
prentice novelists wrote in longhand 
and Jack Keroiiac was still on the road 
to Nirvana, 1 used to associate the temi 
"avant-garde" with poets in garrets and 
painters in lofts. I thought of cheap 
foreign wine, cold north light, and un- 
readable manuscripts bound with string 
and stored on windowsills next to a 
photograph ot Ezra Pound and a poster 
commemorating the glories of fif- 
teenth-century Florence. None of the 
associations have survived the last thir- 
ty years of constant revolution within 
the kingdom of sovereign images, and 
1 now understand that the genius of 
the age reveals itself not in the im- 
poverishment of its aesthetic sensibil- 
ity but in the exuberance of its com- 
mercial imagination. 

Like everybody else in New York 
who has anything to do with the 
media, 1 probably listen to as many as 
ten or twelve propositions a month 
from pee^ple hoping to wrench a prof- 
it from one or another of the new com- 
puter technologies — schemes for hous- 
ing the New York Stock Exchange in 
a CD-ROM or reducing Freud's col- 
lection of dreams to a database, de- 
signs tor search engines that can solve 
the riddle ot the sphinx, for Web sites 
that play the music ot Beetho\-en's 
symphonies or translate the chroni- 
cles of Frt)issart from the medieval 
French, twenty-tour-hour commen- 


taries on the Bible, shopping networks 
that deal in macadamia nuts and ori- 
ental dancing girls. 

Most of the technical language I 
don't understand, but through the mist 
of talk about info-dynamics and net- 
seek I sometimes can see the heights of 
the new Parnassus, and 1 know that 
instead of perishing from the earth, 
the means of artistic experiment mere- 
ly have changed forms — porous sys- 
tems and agreeable bandwidths in 
place ot an easel or a piano, a spread- 
sheet instead of four reams of 
foolscap — and over the course of a sin- 
gle week in late November I listened 
to three propositions deserving of brief 
summary, it for no other reason than to 
measure the distance between Picasso 
and Polycom. As follows: 


Three days after the presidential 
election, a man wearing a well-cut but 
nondescript suit showed up in my of- 
fice to offer his services as the suppli- 
er ot news tor every occasion. He gave 
his name as "David Cornwall" and 
looked tii be in his early fifties, pre- 
cise in his choice of words and careful 
about moving his hands. From a liter- 
ary agent we both knew he had heard 
that Harf^ers Magazine sometimes had 
need ot an astonishing rumor or a con- 
venient tact. It so, he could furnish on 
demand whatever was required. 

For twenty years, he said, he had 
worked at writing novels, but none of 
his books had sold more than a tew 
thousand copies, and the possibility ot 
a second career occurred to him when 
he noticed that the better newspaper 








It I 





Stories depended upon sources 
ously identified as "informed," " 
dential," "Washington," "high 
"White House," and "well-plain 
Further study persuaded him th 
phrases served as a disguise for c- 
rate or government bureaucrats 

"Here was a cast of charactersi 
ly understocxi," he said. "People 
sumed by envy and pitted with ml 
All I had to do was to assign thai 
office in the Pentagon or a seat 
campaign plane. I didn't even ha.-; 
give them names." 

First he made himself familiar 
the statistical jargon and the sta 
repertoire of simple political isl 
For six months he read governt^B ^rd 
budgets, annual reports, congresot "'^ 
al testimony, speeches delivereil -Jv 
corporate presidents at convenii aji 
and sales meetings. Once Corrfe Ui 
had learned what the arguments 'Bl a 
likely to be about, he began to woitaijii! 
the problems of motive. Within a5ffl:H 
he had developed a plausible f.hijJi 
nique, making telephone calls to 'nim 
dicated columnists from an unsici' t< 
fied crossroads within the interior i an a 
obscure bureaucracy. i- 

"The Department of Agricultie,' -J' 
he said, "is like Namibia. People t nk 
that they're supposed to know wht;:il 
is and what it means, and notdyag 
wants to admit that he never hea; ot I 
the place." t 

Emboldened by the credulity oiist! 
respondents, Cornwall extended hi;f^^ •gi 
erations into the lesser provinces oihe-i^ 
departments ot Justice and State,i.p' 
nronriatino the nersonae of increasiig'- 



minent government spokesmen 

rculating remarks about the mur- 

Vincent Foster and forthcoming 

lery in Islamabad. Pretty soon he 

to see his work in print, dressed 

ithe rubrics of authority, disturb- 

e peace of nations. 

isident CUnton's first term in of- 

iiad proved especially good for 

ess. The congressional commit- 

.nvestigating the Whitewater 

al welcomed any slander of ei- 

he President or his wife, and the 

/•wing newspapers gratefully lis- 

1 to him speak through the masks 

kansas state troopers and once- 

-a-time securities brokers doing 

for fraud. His collected works he 

)0und in leather volumes, which 

ranged on the desk as if he were 

■;essful author presenting a copy of 

^ew book to Jay Leno or Oprah 

.'rey. One of the bound volumes 

;iven over in its entirety to reprints 

i the New York Post, another to 

ints from the Wall Street Journal. 

ou see," he said, not without 

':, "what can be done." 

jminding me that Primary Colors 

far more copies before its anony- 

s author was discovered to be Joe 

n, Cornwall stressed the simplici- 

id low cost of operation. Not on- 

ould an editor have more control 

the news but the price of the ser- 

was a good deal less than the 

ij ries paid to a reporting staff. 

.Ithough 1 could appreciate the fi- 

cial advantages of the business, 1 

still at a loss to know what satis- 

lion Cornwall derived from writ- 

so many similar variations on an 

itical theme. "An audience," he 

. "I'm writing the great American 

el, and they read me in Kansas City 

Detroit." He left a business card 

1 a single telephone number and 

inteen names, most of them listed 

2NN's database and all of them 

tected by the First Amendment. 


Vt least twenty years younger than 
rnwall and dressed in the Califor- 
manner (blue jeans, silk shirt, as- 
ic beard, Armani jacket), Meyer 
> passing briefly through New York 
his way to an Oasis concert in Lon- 
1. He was selling ownership in spe- 
c individuals whom he had incor- 

porated as public stock offerings — pri- 
marily actors and actresses but also a 
limited number ot athletes, musicians, 
authors, fashion models, and televi- 
sion talk-show hosts. "What we are 
doing here," he said, "is trading in the 
currency of images." 

Pressed for time, Meyer handed me 
a sheat of advertisements for the fi- 
nancial press, together with copies of 
documents that he had filed with the 
SEC. The advertisements looked like 
the ones placed by Merrill Lynch or 
Morgan Stanley tor CDT Systems, or 
Solectron, or Infonautics — small 
squares of print listing a name, a date, 
the sum of the capitalization, and the 
number of common shares. The fil- 
ings provided information about the 
new company's prospective assets and 
potential liabilities — e.g., teeth, hair, 
film credits, critical notices, high 
school batting average, as well as sex- 
ual eccentricities, drug habits, and 
record of prior arrests. Only a few of 
the names were well known. For the 
most part they belonged to individu- 
als under the age of twenty. 

He explained that nobody these days 
could become a star without first be- 
coming a celebrity, which was fortu- 
nate because celebrity was easier to 
manufacture than talent or intelli- 
gence. The research and development 
costs were relatively cheap, no more 
than $15 or $20 million for cosmetic 
surgery, a biography of some sort, 
clothes, entertainment, photo oppor- 
tunities, fees paid to publicists and 
precinct desk sergeants. As a careful 
student of the market, especially of 
the speeds at which images traveled 
(not only between continents but al- 
so between different forms of media), 
Meyer had worked out a set of equa- 
tions describing the time it took to 
transform a guitarist into a T-shirt or 
a basketball player into a sneaker. 

"That's the point, of course," he 
said. "To change a subject into an ob- 
ject, which, as you well know, is the de- 
finition ot ari American success." 

For the cautious investor Meyer pro- 
vided funds hedged against unforeseen 
turns in the market: three or four male 
action heroes balanced with an equal 
number of female comics, authors of ro- 
mantic fantasy in the same portfolio 
with authors of hard-edged detective 
stories. The adventurous investor could 

Anita Shreve 

delivers "a powerfully 
compelling tale"* 

A hundred-year-old murder mystery 
leads a photojournalist on an 

obsessive journey through the past — 

and present — in the haunting new 

novel by the acclaimed author of 

Edeu Close and Strange Fits of Passion. 

"Rich, sensual... Shreve plunges 
us into the best kind of mystery, 
deep and interior." — Rosellen Brown 

'A provocative and disturbing 
meditation on the nature of love... 
written with assurance and grace." 

— 'Publiihen Weekly, starred review 

A N 1 

T A 

S H R 



T H 



H T 0/ 


E R 

Now available in lynpvrback: 
Resistance by Anita Shreve 

IL ■'„! Little, Brown and Company 

choose more speculative issues, amotiK 
them a twelve-year-old pitcher in 
Caracas who could thrinv a haseball 
300 feet and a psychopathic florist re- 
cently arrested in Galvesttin, Texas, 
on charges of murdering six people in 
a Laundromat after presenting each of 
them with a yellow rose and a red car- 
natiiin. The florist hadn't yet been in- 
vited to appear on Good Morn/ng 
America, hut there was talk of both a 
book and a movie deal, and Meyer had 
heard that The New Yorker was send- 
ing a staff correspondent. It was this 
last rumor that troublei.1 him. He 
didn't know it The New Yorker's in- 
terest meant that the florist was on 
the way in or on the way out. 

Sctirnful of the Manhattan media's 
understanding ot show business, he 
wasn't sure which newspapers and mag- 
azines were as accurate as Variety. In 
Los Angeles he had heard it said that 
once The New Yorker decided some- 
body was important enough to ntitice, 
the somebody so favored was already 
yesterday's news — a dead moon, an old 
postcard. Did the same rule hold true 
of Va?iit^ Fair.'' Ot George.' What editors 
could be trusted to know the differ- 
ence between a rising and a falling star? 


In the early 1980s I had known 
Laughlin as a sculptor briefly famous for 
decorating the courtyards of suburban 
office buildings with assemblies of large 
and ambiguous stone. When the cor- 
porations lost their nerve for mod- 
ernism (at about the same time that 
the auction and real-estate markets 
collapsed), Laughlin reconstituted 
himself as a designer of Christmas cat- 
alogues. We lost touch, but from mu- 
tual friends 1 heard that he had made 
a success of the business and that he 
had been tine of the first people to see 
the pt)ssibilities in the television shop- 
ping networks, and so 1 wasn't sur- 
prisetl when he shi)wed up in a state of 
high good humor, exuding the enthu- 
siasm of a triumphant salesman, the 
color of his shirt matched to the col- 
or of both his shoes and his watch. We 
exchanged the customary pleasantries 
about the weather (cold), the effects of 
the ciimmunications re\'olution (mar- 
\'elous to behold), and the direction of 
the twenty-first century (largely in the 
hands of the Chinese), and then, after 

the customary moment of expectant si- 
lence, Laughlin handed me a catalogue 
simihir to the ones advertising Carib- 
bean resort htitels. 

"Designer death," he said. "Like de- 
signer flowers or designer chocolate, 
but better. Much better. More per- 

Li)oking through the catalogue, 1 
saw that it listed fifty or sixty avail- 
able deaths in historical order, the 
"Socrates" folK)wed by the "Julius Cae- 
sar," followed by the "Joan of Arc," 
the "Marie Antoinette," the "Nelson 
Rockefeller," the "Robert Maxwell," 
and the "Kurt Cobain." Accompanied 
by small hut tasteful illustrations, each 
block of text hinted at the sorts of 
people likely to be attracted to a par- 
ticular end. The briichure suggested 
the "Socrates" for "serene and philo- 
sophical individuals no longer besieged 
by the vanity of human wishes"; the 
"Nelson Rockefeller" was recom- 
mended for the "flamboyant and ex- 
troverted personality who delights in 
astonishing his friends and loved ones." 

While I turned the pages, admiring 
the expensive weight of the paper and 
the elegance of the typefaces, Laugh- 
lin elaborated the marketing strategy 
in an excited rush of phrases and half- 

"I'm talking spectacles," he said, 
"for people who have everything but 
still feel like nobodies. People too rich 
and too important to die anonymous 
deaths in sterile hospital rooms. Why 
shouldn't they go first class — with 
their names in lights and a chorus of 
savage tears?" 

When 1 asked him if he expected 
any trouble with the authorities, if not 
with the police then with the Chris- 
tian Coalition or the American Med- 
ical Association, he reminded me that 
Dr. jack Kevorkian had assisted at 
forty-six suicides and been acquitted by 
no fewer than three juries in Michigan. 
Dismissing my objection as one of no 
consequence, he continued the sales 
pitch with unimpaired fervor. 

"Like everything else," he said, "it's 
a question of cost. Take the 'Joan of 
Arc' It could be staged anywhere — 
in Central Park, on the steps of St. 
Patrick's Cathedral, in a \'acant lot; 
with a cast of jeering thousands, or in 
front of a few old and (.|uiet friends on 
a lawn in Connecticut." 




He expected different deaths 
come fashionable among differer 
oi people. He thought that the ' 
Antoinette" or the "Catherii 
Great" might appeal to .society 
en; the "Julius Caesar," to liter 
tellectuals, who tended to hat 
another and always could recrui 
or nine of their number willing i 
any author whose book had recs 
splendid review or stayed on th' 
seller list for longer than six we 

TTie brochure wasn't sct gauch 
mention prices (available on rec 
but it was clear that any extra r 
inents would add substantially 
unit cost. Arrangements could be 
for varying intensities of media < 
age, for costumes and cameo 
played by well-known actors at 
litical figures, for souvenirs, re 
ments, and a farewell message wl 
by an author along the lines of D; 
Steele or John Grisham. 

Wondering if 1 had passed o' 
to the generation no longer co 
able with the experiments of the 
garde, 1 asked Laughlin whether 
conservative politicians mighl 
think his entertainments insuff itj 
ly upbeat. 

"Nonsense," he said. "You mi? 
inspirational angle. America 
much too afraid of death, and thi: 
of thing will cure them of their 
ety and hypochondria. Think 
exemplary proofs of human di li 
and courage. Think of the relief 'o 

He could see no flaw in the pijp | 
sition, hut he was having trouble n 
ing investors endowed with entr u 
neurial spirit. Thinking that 1 rgt 
know such people, he left me witfe 
eral copies of the catalogue, antl it( 
in the afternoon, reading the Ma 
print on the last page, 1 noticed t it 
well-designed death also could e 
tax deduction. It was possible to nli 
of one's death a charitable enter irt 
ment, like a theater performanctirj 
nuiseum benefit. The patron doiUtl 
his or her death to a worthy ch 
everybody enjoys a ci)nvivial occaDI 
the papers publish the guest list,fn 
the proceeds offset the sum of'h 
taxes owed by the deceased's est;El 

Reading the final selling poiti.i 
couldn't help hut admire Laughin 
genius ft)r the new. I 





[irhis is a nasty book . . ." 
—New York Times Book Review 

3ene Lyons is more 

lan just wrong." 

-The American Spectator 

[Lyons] makes a strong 
ase that the whole White- 
/ater business is 'possibly the 
M aost politically charged case 
f journalistic malpractice in 
ecent American history.' " 
—The Atlantic Monthly 

,f] Lyons offers the first fully cred- 
hil'ble version of what happened." 
'^'^— New York magazine 

Lyons sounds like the last sane 
'|/oice in the din of the asylum." 
—The Atlanta journal-Constitution 

'Lyons doesn't claim that the Clin- 
tons never did anything wrong, but 
' he convincingly shows that many 
I [Whitewater] charges against them 
; are exaggerated, politically motivated 
or flat-out wrong" 
; — The ICleveland] Plain Dealer 


"Lyons attacks with the same zeal that New York 
'. Times columnist William Safire displays when he goes 
after public officials whose veracity he doubts. The 
result has been indignation in the media and a coun- 
terattack on Lyons's credibility." 
— Christian Science Monitor 

"Drawing on years of newspaper- 
ing, Lyons catalogs a disturbing 
ist of mistakes and omissions 
that he found in stories by the 
national press, especially [the] 
New York Times ..." 
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 

"[His] book, which follows an 
earlier Harper's Magazine ar- 
ticle, adds to the growing 
and legitimate argument 
that America's mainstream 
press, far from being ideo- 
logical, has simply gone 
—Los Angeles Times Book 

"Guaranteed to make 
you mad . . . Gene Lyons 
and Harpers Magazine 
ought to have a 
Pulitzer for digging at 
the rot in the political press, but the 
press will see they don't get one." — Arliansas Times 

"[A] timely, important book." — Publishers Weekly 

"He demonstrates pretty convincingly that the Times 
investigative reporter who broke the story ignored or 
didn't understand crucial information . . ." 
— Newsday 

"An excellent exegesis of Whitewater." 
— Molly Ivins 

Available at Barnes & Nohk, Border's, Waldenbooks, 

Croum Bookstores, and other fine bookstores nationwide. 

Also available through the Harper's Magazine Bookshelf adveriisemenl . 

PAPER, $9.95 


A D I V 

H A R P E R 

I S 1 O N OF 



Jumber by which Americans whci watched last year's Super Bowl exceeded those who voted in November : 43,000,000 

Chances that a person directly affected by the welfare-reform law signed last year could vote : 2 in 5 

lank of Texas, the state with the least generous welfare program, among states with the highest adolescent birth rate : 2 

Rank of North Dakota, the state with the most generous program : 50 

Ratio of the population of North Dakota to the total number of Americans employed by Wal-Mart : 1 : 1 

Average figure given by Americans when asked to estimate what percentage of the population is unemployed : 20.6 

Percentage of Americans who are actually unemployed : 5.2 
Percentage change since 1989 in the number of children living in poverty who have at least one working parent : +35 
Chances that a Republican man believes that "poor people have hard lives" : i in 4 
Percentage of poor, urban fifth-graders in a University of Michigan study who say that they smoke cigarettes : 6 
Percentage who say that they've had sexual intercourse : 46 
ars after Naomi Campbell said "I'd rather go tiaked than wear fur" that she posed for a 10-page fur spread in W magazine : 2 
!rcentage of Americans who are "more comfortable" with a First Lady who keeps the same hairstyle tor an entire term : 17 
Portion of U.N. peacekeeping missions ever undertaken that have occurred in the last tour years : 1/2 
Portion of the U.N.'s total debt that is made up of back dues owed by the U.S. : 1/2 
mount by which Medicare's outlays exceeded contributions in 1995, the first year the program had a deficit : $36,000,000 

Size of the Medicare deficit in 1 996 : $4,200,000,000 

Percentage of elderly Medicare patients in fee-for-service plans whose health declined during a tour-year study : 28 

Percentage ot elderly Medicare patients in HMOs whose health declined during the study: 54 

Number of states that forbid HMOs from offering doctors financial incentives to restrict treatment to their patients : 3 

Chances that a nurse would not warit a member of her own family to be treated in the hospital where she works : 2 in 5 

Number of hospital fires in 1995 caused by the spontaneous combustion ot latex patient-examination gloves : 4 
ercentage change between 1980 and 1992 iti the number of HlV-negative Americans who died of infectious diseases : +22 

Percentage of people who go to the bathroom in New York's Penn Station who do not wash their hands : 40 

Amount that SculptYours, in Santa Monica, California, charges to bronze a set ot buttocks, depending on size : $2,700-$3,700 

Number of Bill Clinton Waffles a California bakery has sold since their introdtiction last September : 50,000 

Percentage change since 1992 in the nuinbtr of Latinos registered to vote in California s +45 

Percentage of Americans who say that they speak English "very well" : 94 

Chances that an evil character in a Disney animated movie speaks with a foreign accent : I in 2 

Number of his own children Ted Turner laid off during the merger ot his company with Time Warner : 1 

Amount spent each year on electricity to operate all the exit signs in Duildings in the U.S. : $ 1 ,000,000,000 

Chances that a computer is left on overnight : 2 in 5 

Rank of Taurus among the astrological signs of people most likely to use the Internet : 1 

Rank of Aries among the astrological signs of people most likely to be in an automobile accident ; I 

Percentage of all commuter trips taken in 19(S0 tbat were in car pools : 20 

Percentage today : I 3 

Rank of the United States, among CJ-7 nations, in investment in public inirasiruciure : 7 

Amount the U.S. spends on road construction and maintenance each day : $180,429,842 

Average number of potholes per mile of paved U.S. road ; 8 

Miles the average sixth-grader doodles during the school year s 1.3 

Figures cited have been adjusted far inflation and are ihe latest availahle ds nj November 1^96. Sources are listed (ni /xi^f (S3. 

"Harper's Index" is a registered trademark. 


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From "Rhyming Action," by Charles Baxter, in 
the Fall J 996 issue of the Michigan Quarterly 
Review. Baxter is the author of a book of poetry, 
six books of fiction, and a collection of essays, 
Burning Down the House, forthcoming from 
Graywolf Press. His essay "No-Fault Fiction: 
Blame the Presidents" appeared in the November 
1994 issue 0/ Harper's Magazine. 


-K. or 

or the last three hundred years or so, prose 
writers have, from time to time, glanced over 
in the direction of the poets for some guidance 
in certain matters of life and writing. Contem- 
plating the lives of poets, however, is a soher- 
ing activity. A poet's life is rarely one that you 
would wish upon your children. It's not so 
much that poets are unable to meet various 
payrolls; it's more often the case that they've 
never heard of a payroll. Many of them are 
pleased to think that the word "salary" is yet 
another example of esoteric jargon. 

I myself am an ex-poet. My friends who arc 
poets like me better now that I no longer write 
poetry. It always got in the way of our frieiid- 
ships, my being a poet and writing poems. The 
one thing that can get a poet irritated and up- 
set is the thought of another poet's poerns. 
Now that 1 do not write poetry, 1 am better 
able to watch the spontaneous combustion of 

poets at a distance. The poets even invite con- 
templation of their stormy lives, and perhaps 
this accounts for their recent production of 
memoirs. If you didn't read about this stuff in a 
hook, you wouldn't believe it. 

Prose writers, however, are no better. Their 
souls are usually heavy and managerial. Writers 
of fiction are by nature a sullen bunch. The 
strain of inventing one plausible event after 
another in a coherent chain of narrative tends 
to show on them. As Nietzsche says about 
Christians, you can tell from their faces that 
they don't enjoy doing what they do. Fiction 
writers cluster in the unlit corners of the room, 
silently observing everybody, including the po- 
ets, who are usually having a fine time in the 
center spotlight, making a spectacle of them- 
selves as they eat the popcorn and drink the 
beer and gossip about other poets. Usually it's 
the poets who leave the mess just as it was, the 
empty bottles and the stains on the carpet and 
the scrawled phrases they have written down 
on the backs of pizza delivery boxes — phrases 
to be used for future poems, no doubt — and it's 
the prose writers who in the morning have to 
clean it all up. Poets think that a household 
mess is picturescque — for them it's the contem- 
porary equivalent of a field of daffodils. The 
poets start the party and dance the longest, but 
they don't know how to plug in the stereo sys- 
tem, and they have to wait for the prose writers 
to show them where the on/off switch is. In 
general, poets do not know where the on/off 
switch is anywhere in life. They are usually oft 
unless they are forcibly turned on, and they 

REAruNGS 15 

stay on until they are taken to the emergency 
room, where they are medicated and turned off 

Prose writers are always studying you to see 
if there's anything in your personality or ap- 
pearance that they can steal for their next nar- 
rative. They notice everything ahout you, and 
sooner or later they start to editorialize on you, 
like a color commentator at a sports event. 
You have a much better chance at friendship 



From the September 3, 1996, televised debate 
among the six Republicans running in New Hamp' 
shire's primary to replace retiring Representative 
Bill Zeliff. John E. Sununu, son of the former 
White House chief of staff, won the primary and 
the election. 

REPORTER: I would like to get away from the 
policy issues and ask a question that may re- 
veal something about the candidates them- 
selves. If you could trade places with anyone 
who is alive in the world today, who might 
you choose ? 

VIVIAN CLARK: Oh, glory — Margaret Thatcher. 
I realize that she's no longer in power in Eng- 
land, but she is one of the most fascinating 
women 1 have ever heard or observed, and I 
would like just to spend time in her persona. 

TONl PAPPAS: I would like to be Elizabeth Dole, 
because I think she's going to be the greatest 
first lady that this country has ever seen. 

RAY WIECZOREK: I would like, if 1 had the op- 
portunity — but not now while he's currently 
sick — to be Ronald Reagan. I would be very 
proud to be him for a day. 

JACK HEATH: I want to go offbeat a little bit. I 
would love to become one of my daughters. 
My oldest is seven, and I watch her. She's 
just at that age when everything is tun in 
lite. She's full of innocence. So it she's 
watching — Margaret, maybe I'll be you in 
school tomorrow. 

JOHN E. SUNUNU: If 1 had the opportunity, I 
think I'd probably change places with my 
wife. Nobody works harder, nobody under- 
stands our children more, nobody under- 
.stands me better. I'd like the opportunity to 
understand what it's like to live with mc, day 
after day. 

with a poet, unless you are a poet yourself. In 
your bad moments, a poet is always likely to 
sympathize with your misery, and in your good 
moments to imagine you as a companion for a 
night on the town. Most poets don't study 
character enough to be able to steal it; they 

have enough trouble understanding 

what character is. 


t all human occupations, the writing of 
poetry leaves the most time for concentrated 
leisure activities. Poets have considerable 
quantities of spare time and a low boredom 
threshold, which makes them fun and scary to 
be around. With poets, you are likely to find 
yourself, as I once did, driving around town at 
two in the morning looking for a restaurant 
that sells roast beef sandwiches; the sandwich- 
es, in this case, were not for the poet but for his 
hunting dogs, who had become accustomed to 
this diet. Loyalty is a religion for poets, and in 
any case they need the requirements of friend- 
ship to fill the twenty-three and a half hours a 
day that they are not writing. They are dis- 
tractible, however, since they are usually 
thinking about an image or a favorite phrase or 
a new approach to the sacred. Prose writers 
have to spend hours and hours in chairs, facing 
paper, adding one brick to another brick, piling 
up the great heap of their endless observations, 
going through the addled inventory of all the 
items they've laboriously paid attention to, and 
it makes them surly, all this dawn-till-dusk sit- 
ting for the sake of substantial books that you 
could use to prop open a door. Fiction writers 
get resentful watching poets call it quits at 9:30 
.A.M. Writing prose is steady work, but it tends 
to make prose writers grumpy and moneygrub- 
bing and long-faced. They feel that they should 
be rewarded for what they do: observing every- 
thing and everybody with that wide-eyed star- 
ing look, like a starving cat painted on a velvet 

Poets are the nobility of the writing world. 
Their nobility has to do with their spiritual in- 
telligence and their mind-haunted love of lan- 
guage and their subtle perfectionism. You can 
be a prose writer without having any kind of 
primary relation to the gods, but poets are of- 
ten god-touched, when they are not being 
butchered by the gods, and this fate affects 
them in curious ways. They think about fate of- 
ten, if not obsessively. Like other nobles who 
spend their days scouting the heavens, howev- 
er, poets have little understanding of most 
worldly duties, except for writing poems and 
falling in love and having great sex, which ex- 
plains why halt of their poems are about writ- 
ing poems or tailing in love or having great sex. 
They float slightly above other occupations, 


gazing down at them with anxiety and bemused 
incomprehension. In order to survive, they 
manage to acquire jobs associated with towers 
and unworldhness: university teaching, mar- 
riage counsehng, and forest management. They 
love to gaze at trouble from a distance, a condi- 
tion often defined as "the sublime," and to 
comment on it. Their commentaries are nearly 
always correct and nearly always ignored, 
which is, after all, the fate of most prophecy. 



From a letter sent last October by Gary Aldrich, 
author 0/ Unlimited Access, to David Brock, au- 
thor of "The Travelgate Coverup," "Living with 
the Clintons; Bills Arkansas Bodyguards Tell the 
Story the Press Missed," and other American 
Spectator articles critical of the Clinton Adminis- 
tration. In his book, Aldrich, a former FBI agent 
at the White House, wrote that President Clinton 
had been sneaked out of the White House under a 
blanket for a tryst at the Washington Marriott. It 
was later revealed that Aldrich' s source for that al- 
legation was Brock; Brock publicly disavowed the 
story, saying that Aldrich had reported as fact what 
Brock had mentioned to him as a rumor, and in his 
own book, The Seduction of Hillary Rodham, 
Brock dismissed the tale as "idle gossip." Aldrich' s 
letter to Brock appeared in Christopher Caldwell's 
column in the November 13, 1996, issue of the 
New York Press. 

Dear David, 

I finally got my chance to score a free copy of 
your book yesterday. It happened at one of my 
book signings, just as I thought it would. See, 
when you are a best-selling author, they tend to 
give you extra attention, and one of the many 
perks can be a gift from the bookstore. Well, as 
you know, I could not expect to receive a copy 
of your book from you, so 1 had to rely on some 
other method to obtain it. I could ntit bear to 
spend any money on one, since I knew that 
$1.50 or so would go to you, and that would just 
not be acceptable to me. Trouble is, I have one 
that's not signed. Any chance you could meet 
with me, say, in some dark alley, and sign it tor 
me? Just kidding, David. Don't get paranoid or 
anything. 1 don't need it signed. 

Sorry for all the bad press on your book, 
David. I guess some of it — nab, probably a lot 
of it — is coming from the stink that's left over 
from what you did to me. But actually, it's reul- 
ly a crummy book. 

You talk of [my] violations of "discretion and 
respect" for the "office" and for the FBI. David, 
you can only dream of what it might be like to 
be an FBI agent working at the White House, 
or an Arkansas State Trooper, for that matter. 
In fact, you will never know what it's like to 
work at the White House — I'll make it my per- 
sonal business to see to it that you are never ac- 
cepted there, in the unlikely event that you 
ever want to go there. I guess I could allow you 
to have a White House tour. Let me know if 
you want one, okay? 

You are a liar, David. You know in your 
heart that you are, but your sins are probably 
much greater than I could ever imagine. When 
you launched your attack against me and my 
book, it didn't take five minutes for everyone, 
left and right, to see what you were up to. You 
were used by the mainstream press, the same 
press that now says your book is D.O.A. 

Way to go. Do you think that you will be 

[Sympathy Card] 


From Greetings, a set of "all occaiion" cards toncewt'd 
and illustrated by Erika Rothenherg. The cards are cur- 
remly on display at the Susan Inglett Gallery in Neiv 
Yiirk City . Rothenhcrs, lives in Los Angeles . 


"Death of the Gerhil," by Donna Ferratci. The photo^aph was taken in a kindergarten class at the United Nations lnterr\ational School in N 
York City. It was on display last October at the Thread Waxing Space in New York City. 

able to come hack to the conservatives when 
you find that the liberals won't have you? 
Mayhe that's possible — in about twenty years 
or so. From what 1 hear, there is deep, deep 
disgust and hatred for what you tried to do to 
me. But more troubling for you is the conven- 
tional wisdom that you cannot keep a secret, 
cannot shield a source. The Arkansas Troopers 
know who you really are now. So do I, and 
millions of others. You're the guy who gets in- 
formation from a source, and then exposes and 
trashes the source, right? 

Tell me, David, how dtjcs one write a hook 
without sources? Perhaps you will now shift to 
novels. 1 have considered dciing a novel or two, 
after about two more best-sellers I have planned. 
Poor mixed-up David Brock. Doesn't know wln) 
he is; doesn't know who likes him or hates him, 
or who wants to be his friend or his enemy. 
Doesn't know it he's a conservative or a liberal, 
a Clinton basher or a Clinton masher. Which is 
it, David? Enquiring minds want to know. 

Anyway, bad luck on your new book. I guess 
1 won't be .seeing you at the remainder table. 

because I won't be there. And David, don't get 
too testy (as in testosterone) on me, will ya? 
You know, I am not too far removed from my 
law-enforcement buddies, who think you are 
lower than, say, pond scum. It would be my 
suggestion that you always drive within the 
speed limit and never cheat on taxes. Probably 
you should not score any weed, or coke, or 
anything like that. Better have someone do it 
for you. Without even trying I can think of 
dozens of ways the "men and women in blue" 
can hold you to a greater degree of scrutiny. I 
suppose they will be tempted to hold you to 
the same impossible standard that you held me 
to. Poor Saint David, self-appointed Keeper of 
the Truth! 

Well, got to go now. After 250 radio shows 
and counting, this book business gets to be 
too busy, a real grind sometimes, but one 
must do what one must do. And all the 
speeches, and fund-raisers, and TV. Wow. 
There isn't enough time in a day, is there? 
Oh yeah, I forgot — that only happens when 
you write a best-seller. Whoops. Sorry, David, 


there I go again. I'm being insensitive. Well, 
I guess I'll have to work on that. 

Warmest regards, 

Gary W. Aldrich, author ot Unlimited Ac- 
cess, a New York Times best-selling book for 
lots and lots of weeks. Thanks, David! 

P.S. Will you and George Stephanopoulos be 
available for my next book? Check your calen- 
dar, will ya? 



From ail official cable sent on September 4, 1 996, 
from the LJ.S. Embassy in Sarajevo to the State 
Department and later distributed to the White 
House and the Defense Department. The cable, 
which was sent ten days before Bosnia's national 
elections, contradicts the Clinton Administration's 
public statements at that time that U.S. troops 
would be removed from the region "on schedule" 
by the end of J 996. According to the State De- 
partment, the cable was sent by mistake; officials 
attempted to retrieve all copies of it but were un- 

nik in the upcoming months. His subsequent 
removal from the collective presidency will be 
perceived in the Repuhlika Srpska as anti-Serb. 
The resulting backlash could be extreme. 

The physical presence of Karadzic and 
Mladic in the Serb Republic engenders suspi- 
cion among Bosnians that NATO is not serious 
about prosecuting war criminals. Among Serbs, 
this perception supports the notion that a move 
toward secession will not prompt a serious re- 
sponse from the international community. 

Croat Reaction: The Bishops 

We believe Serb secession would be 
matched by the Croats. [Croat leader] Tudj- 
man will not sit by while [Serb leader] Milose- 
vic pieces advance. The Croat-Muslim Federa- 
tion, already severely taxed by mutual distrust, 
will fall victim to Croat separatism. Taking 
their cue from the Serbs, the Croats will rein- 
vigorate efforts for a rump Croat state, eventu- 
ally to be subsumed into Croatia proper. 

Queen's Gambit: Dayton U 

The elections, although vital to Bosnia, will 
not advance the peace process. The lack of will 
on all sides will not be miraculously reversed by 
the elections. The mistrust all parties feel to- 
ward the international community's commit- 
ment to regional peace will not evaporate 
when votes are cast. 

Secession: The Opening Move 

Post-election Bosnia will be threatened by 
the Serb drive toward secession. Pale's goal is 
no secret. [The Bosnian Serb leaders] Krajisnik, 
Plavsic, and Buha are staunch advocates of se- 
cession. Although publicly antiwar, they are 
not against war to further their own aims. At 
all levels the SDS [Serbian Democratic Party] 
preaches a sovereign Serb state. Soon after the 
elections, we expect a Serb referendum sup- 
porting secession. The vox populi reinforces 
this scenario. From Prijedor to Brcko in the 
north and from Bijeljina and Trebinje in the 
east, our contacts parrot the party line: "Re- 
puhlika Srpska [the Serb territory in Bosnia] is 
for the Serbs." 

On September 14, the SDS will win the major 
seats. [SDS member Krajisnik was elected Ser- 
bian representative in Bosnia's three-way presi- 
dency; municipal elections were postponed.] For 
Bosnia, such results will signal the death of joint 
institutions, already undermined by continuing 
SDS control of local authorities. Control o( the 
entire government will allow the SDS to move 
unimpeded along the road to secession. 

Krajisnik, Karadzic, Mladic: The Kings 

We expect an indictment [by the United 
Nations War Crimes Tribunal] against Kraji.s- 



From an internal meynorandum sent to USAir pilots 
on August 2, J 996, two weeks after the explosion of 
TWA Flight 800, by Captain Paul Sturpe, maymger 
of flight operations and procedures for USAir. 


here may be occasions during an in-flight 
anomaly when it is desirable to disable the 
phone system [that is available to passengers]. 
USAir prefers to furnish press releases for in- 
flight anomalies instead of having this informa- 
tion reported live via telephone from the air- 
craft! The captain is encouraged to use his 
discretion in deactivating the phone system by 
pulling the circuit breaker in these instances. 


We believe the Dayton agreement must he 
reaffirmed hy all players. A Dayton II peace 
conference made up of those who took part in 
last year's negotiations will he crucial to the es- 
tablishment of joint institutions and to the fu- 
ture of Bosnia. The new Bosnian leaders must 
renew their commitment to Daytttn and imme- 
diately implement its key components: freedom 



From a speech given last ]uly at the National 
Archives in Washington b^ Brian luitell, director of 
the Center for the Study of Intelligeyicc , a branch of 
the Central Intelligence Agency. 


'e at the CIA are pleased to have this op- 
portunity to underscore the commitment that 
Director John Deutch has made to greater 
openness at the agency and in the intelligetice 
community. In particular, we are committed to 
accelerating our programs devoted to the de- 
classification and release of historical records. 

Today we are making a small but important 
new deposit on that pledge. We are releasing the 
appointment calendars and phone logs ot the first 
two directors of central intelligence, from Janu- 
ary 1946 to May 1947. Other important releases 
of CIA historical records will be forthcoming. 

Ot course we cannot promise that all CIA 
records requested will be fully declassified. De- 
tails of past intelligence activities and programs 
will sometimes still have to be redacted, since 
our legal obligation to protect sensitive sources 
and methods has no statute of limitations. Like 
those brave individuals who cooperate with 
U.S. intelligence today, those who did so twen- 
ty-five or more years ago will not be compro- 
mised. Similarly, it will be impossible for us to 
acknowledge past covert activities that would 
compromise ong(_Mng intelligence programs or 
undermine current relations. We will also be 
unable to release documents that reveal for- 
eign-government information. 

We at the CIA are committed to knowing, 
learning from, and illuminating the agency's 
fascinating history. As we will soon reach our 
fiftieth anniversary, it is especially appropriate 
to emphasize our strong and sincere desire to 
share as much of that history as we possibly can 
with the American people. 

of movement [for all Bosnians] and the return 
of refugees. 

Pawn or Protectorate 

As things stand now, Bosnia is a captured 
pawn. Its partition is certain. There is no will 
on the Serb side to remain within Bosnia's sov- 
ereign borders. When the Serbs go, the Croats 
will follow. Therefore, in the absence of Day- 
ton II, we strongly believe that Bosnia must be- 
come a protectorate. 

A Bosnian protectorate must be safeguarded 
vigorously by a military force capable of imple- 
menting freedom of movement and the return 
of refugees. This is a long-term commitment — 
five years or more. The United States would be 
required to lead this effort. Although such an 
undertaking entails massive commitments, we 
believe it is now one of the few options left if 
the Bosnia envisioned a year ago in Dayton is 
to be preserved. 

[Call to Arms] 


From "The Lines Have Been Drawn," b^i Rick 
West, a message posted last August on Promote 
Pressler! a Web site dedicated to the removal of 
Paul Pressler from his position as president of Dis- 
neyland in Anaheim, California. West, like many 
of the site's regular amtrihutors, has an annual 
pass to the park. 


M^ rie 

riends, the past few months have been a 
mere exercise in what is about to become the 
largest online and public battle against Disney- 
land — specifically its managers, starting with 
Paul Pressler. He is the one who will be held 
responsible for the destruction of Disneyland as 
we know it and as Walt planned it. I write this 
with a very heavy heart. I do not want my play- 
ground to bectime my battlefield, but that is 
what it's come down to. 

Today when I went to my mailbox I found a 
secret packet from somebody inside Disney- 
land. Scribbled in pencil were the words, "If 
you think it's bad now, then you all need to 
brace yourselves!" What was in the plain white 
Disneyland envelope caused me to sit in my car 
and nearly weep. Obviously things had been 
thrown together very quickly — photocopies 
were crooked, etc. — but the hard facts were 
there, staring me in the face. I'll present them 
as coldly as they were presented to me: 

Pressler and his people are hell-bent on mak- 


hii photograph, by Alex Webb, was taken at a miniature golf course in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Webb's series From the Sunshine 
:ate was on display last November at the Leica Gallery in New York City. Webb lives in Brooklyn, New York. 

ing major design changes at Disneyland. First 
of all, Main Street is about to become one large 
candy counter. To hell with the Bakery. To 
hell with the Penny Arcade. To hell with any- 
one who doesn't like it. Disneyland is going to 
tell the public what we want, and we want 
CANDY, not history or variety. Why? Because 
candy brings Disneyland $$$$MONEY$$$$. 

When Pressler's people turned the Penny Ar- 
cade into a stuffed-animal shop, we fought, and 
Pressler relented and changed it back. But it 
was NOT a victory for us. It was a temporary 
"hush up" to calm the noise we were making. It 
turns out that Pressler and his mindless minions 
have far greater plans for the arcade: The an- 
tique arcade machines are to be pushed all the 
way back to the wall. The walls to the Candy 
Shop and the Bakery are literally to be knocked 
out, and the candy counter is going to extend 
all the way through the three existing shops! 

The Carnation restaurant, in the meantime, 
is currently being redesigned as a coffeehouse, 
much like Starbucks. The seating area betv/een 
Carnation and the next set of shops may be- 
come a stuffed-toy area or heaven knows what. 
(Ann Dale is another name to watch — she's in 

charge of Disneyland's merchandise push.) 

Now 1 shift your attention to Tomorrow- 
land. The Mission to Mars project is still a go. 
It will be a restaurant. So what's the problem? 
What if 1 told you that Walt Disney Imagineer- 
ing, the park's original designers, were not in 
charge of the redesign? What if I told you that 
Paul Pressler has brought in two OUTSIDE 
restaurant-design companies to rework Main 
Street and the Mission to Mars building — two 
companies that have NOTHING to do with 
Disneyland? Are you getting the picture now, 
my friends? 

Paul, who are you going to fire? Are you 
gonna call everyone at Disneyland into your of- 
fice and ask them who mailed me the package 
full of your lies and evil plans? This is a public 
thing now. It's up to us on the Internet. Friends, 
if you want tii fight for Disneyland, 1 beg you to 
do so with all your might. It not, delete this and 
pray that others can make a difference. 

Start making your calls, folks. The number for 
Di.sney]and City Hall is (714) 781-4000. That 
will give you a live operator. Ask for City Hall, 
and then tell them you want to make a formal 
complaint against Paul Pressler. This is critical, 


and it must he dealt with NOW. Hell, use the 
number and ask Kir Paul Pressler's oftice — to hell 
with City Hall! Go to the man, friends! This is 
not a joke, nor is it a test. This is happening, and 
it is VERY real. 1 implore and he^ you to help us. 
Otherwise, Disneyland is aoinji to tall. 



From the transcript of the September 25, 1996, 
edition of Barbara Carlson and Friends, a radio 
talk ihoiv on KSTP-AM in St. Paul, Minnesota. 
Carlson began the program with a report about 
shootings that had occurred earlier thai morning in 
downtown Minneapolis following a concert by the 
hip'hop group Btnic Thugs-n-harmony . A portion 
of the transcript appeared in the October 2, 1996, 
issue of City Pages, a Minneapolis weekly. 

BARBARA CARLSON; Okay, Bone Thugs-n-har- 
mony — we had three altercations with 
shots, one with ten shots. Can you believe 
this? I am just astounded. Now, 1 have Vic, 
who went to the concert, on line three. Vic, 
good morning, welcome to KSTP. Why 
don't you tell us a little bit about Bone 
Thugs-n-harmony, because, Vic, 1 don't 
know anything about them, but let me tell 
you, I'm learning. Today is my day of under- 
standing and learning. 

VIC: All right. Easy E, he was one ot the first pi- 
oneers of gangsta rap, and he brought Bone 
Thugs-n-harmony out. He promoted them. 
Their latest album sold like 4 million 
records. So it's not just black people who 
like them. A lot of people who came to the 
concert were white. 

CARLSON: Now, what is gangsta rap? 

VIC: [/au^hs] 

CARLSON: I mean, it you v\ere gomg to describe 
gangsta rap to a middle-aged broad trom 
Kenwood, how would you do it.' 

VIC: It's reality, it's what goes on in the black 
commimity. See, you guys don't know much 
about tKir community. 

CARLSON: Well, we are trying and we are learn- 
ing. So what is gt>ing on.' You are being 
killed right and left? 

Vic:: [/flKghs] I mean, they are not just killing 
people. It's just that people get a hold oi 
guns and they don't know bow to act. 

CARLSON: Do you have a gun? 

VIC: Yes, I do. 

CARLSON: Are you in a gang? 

VIC: No, I'm not. But I live in south Minneapo- 
lis. It's a rough neighborhood. 

CARLSON: How old are you? 

VIC: Nineteen. 

CARLSON: Nineteen and you carry a gun. 

Vlt:: I d(m't carry a gun. I work every day, but 
when I go home, I got protection, you know, 
just in case, because my car has been broken 
intt) twice. I've had altercations. People 
busting my windows and everything. But I'm 
a peaceful person. Unless st)mebody — 

CARLSON: Okay, I'm trying to understand — you 
carry a gun in your car? 

VIC: Every now and then when I'm going to a 
party or something like that. But I don't just 
go out and start trouble, because everybody 
got guns. 1 mean, you got to ask yourself the 
question, Who makes the guns? 

CARLSON: I don't need to know who manufac- 
tured them. 1 need to know who's carrying 

VIC: No, you shouldn't say that. 

CARLSON: I need to know who's manufacturing 

VIC: Yes, because how else can you get guns? 
Guns are on the street. You can get one for 
$20, $30, $40. It's not a big deal, you know, 
to buy guns. 

CARLSON: It's not a big deal for you, but Vic, 
you see, there are a lot of people out in Min- 
neapolis that it is a big deal for. 1 just hold 
my breath when you tell me that you go to 
parties and you're carrying a gun. How many 
guns would you say are at some of the parties 

you go to 

Vlt;: Well, it depends. If it's up in north Min- 
neapolis, nobody going to bring them in, but 
they got them in their car or whatever. 

CARLSON: So they don't bring them in. You 
don't put them in your high-tops? 

VIC: [bug/is] You're funny, Barbara. 

CARLSON: See, 1 just read a book where they 
were in the high-tops. 

VIC: If it's just a small-caliber gun, like a .22 or 
a .380, you can. But nobody don't really 
want to start no trouble, you know. Really, if 
somebody confronts you and tries to make 
you look stupid, that's the main reason they 
start trouble. 

CARLSON: Is that called dissing? 

VIC: Yeah [laughs], "dissing" — well, that's an old 

CARLSON: Well, what's the new word? 

VIC: "Playing." You know, trying to play 'em. 

CARLSON: Playing? 

VIC: Play 'em. 

CARLSON: I'm really, Vic, trying to understand. 
Playing, p-1-a-y-i-n-g, playing? 

Vic;: Playing 'em. 

CARLSON: Do you have a family here? 


'atoumata" and "Mima," from The Exile Project, a series of portraits by New York City photographer Yuri Marder. Marder 
lotographed people who "have left their place of language and origin" and asked them to write a statement in their native language 
>out their experiences; he then etched the statements onto their portraits. At left, Fatoumata, who lives in New York City and 
hose native langimge is Susu (from Guiiiea) , wrote: "You can throw a stick into the river, it will not become a fish. War is not 
ce." At right, Mima, who lives in Argentina and whose native language is Russian, wrote: "You are still living my dear old 
other, I am also alive, I send you regards." The portraits were on display last summer at the Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta. 

VIC: Well, 1 got a baby. 

CARLSON: You've got a baby. Are you going to 
marry the mama? 

VIC: No. 

CARLSON: Is the mama on AFDC? 

VIC: I don't know. That's not the point. 

CARLSON: Vic, 1 am trying to understand, and 1 
am trying to learn, and I'm not trying to be 
difficult. Because 1 don't carry a gun, and 
there would be no way I'd have a gun in my 
car going to a party. But your lifestyle is dif- 
ferent from my lifestyle. I'm years older than 
you are. I'm white. I'm all sorts of things, 
and I don't understand your lifestyle and I'm 
trying to get into it. 

VIC: But I just wanted to make a point, because 
I know you've got a mostly white audience 
or whatever — 

CARLSON: Oh nt), we have a lot of blacks who 

VIC: Yeah, but you never discuss black views or 

anything like that. I listen to your show a 

CARLSON: Well, Vic, we're doing it today. 

Now, I guess my next question is, Can't you 

get out ot that environment, or is that the 

way — 
VIC: You ask the easiest question to ask, but 

would you let me come stay in Eden Prairie 

with you or wherever — 
CARLSON: I don't live in Eden Praine. 
VIC: Well, wherever you stay, you know what 

I'm saying? I don't thiiik so. 
CARLSON: You don't know that, do you? 
VIC: Weil, it's common sense. 1 go into the sub- 
urbs — 
CARLSON: You want to have dinner? 
VIC: No. 
CARLSON: Wait, wait, wait, wait, Vic. Don't 

challenge me without — You want to have 

dinner tonight? 
VIC: No, but I'm saying that in general, not you 


probably, but iiiost oi the popiilatitni — 

t.'ARLSON: Coino t)n, Vic. Yiui want to ha\'c 
dinner tonight? 

VIC: No, no, you are gettiiig off the subject. 

t:ARLSON: No, no, no, no. You are getting off — 
I'd hke to get to know you, and I am fine in- 
troducing you to my family and having you 
come over. You want to get your daughter 
together with my granddaughter.' 

VIC: Hey, can we talk about what — 1 just 
want to make a point, you kninv what I'm 

c:aRLSON: But Vic, I'm trying to make a point, 
too. You don't have to live a lite with guns. 
If you are a kid who wants to get out of your 
neighborhood and go to work, you tlon't 
have to stay there. 

VIC: I'm workirig now, but I dc>n't know how 
long that will last. 



This In-achitrc is jor Vikiufilandct, a Viking theme jnirk in 
V interim), Norway. The /i/inro.i^Yi/i/i shows the re-enact- 
iiit'iu ()/(( V'i7<in,i; honeymoon. Visitors also U'aieh Viking^ 
battles, lake part in feasts in honor oj the Norse gods, 
and talk to the Raven (. url. a Viking witeh. 

t:.'\RI.SON: What do you mean? Aren't you a 
good employee? 

Vlt:: Yeah, but you know, I don't ha\'e $50 mil- 
lion to go to college. 

CARLSON: Well, what it 1 were to help you go 
to college? Are you smart eiiough to go to 
college ? 

VIC: I'm very intelligent. I'm trying to finish 
getting my — 

CARLSON: Vic, do ytiu want to go to school? 

VIC: Yeah, I want to go to school. 

CARLSON: Do you want to change your life? 

VIC: Yeah. My life has changed a lot. 1 used to 
stay in Chicago, and it used to he way worse 
than this, and I used to be gangbangin' and 
everything, so I'm taking one step at a time. 

CARLSON: Why did you come here, Vic? 

VIC: Because there's too much competition in 

CARLSON: Too much competition tor drugs? 

VIC: For everything. Drugs, jobs, everything. 
Everybody got their own reasons. 

CARLSON: So how did you hear about Min- 

VIC: Friends come up here and tell you that it's 
all good, you know. I mean, up here, that is 
what the problem is. Nobody don't know 
each other, that's why they're killing each 
other. Because, like, you got to grow up with 
people. Most of the people in Minnesota are 
from L.A., Chicago, Detroit, or whatever. If 
you grow up with people, you aren't going to 
be in a hurry to shoot them or whatever. But 
this is like no-man's-land in Minneapolis. 
Nobody don't know nobody. 

CARLSON: Vic, I'm going to tell you scMiiething, 
and you can just toss it aside if you want. I'd 
be more than happy to have you come to my 
htime, and I'd be more than happy to sit 
down and see what I could do about school. 
The only thing that I would ask is that you 
not have a gun when you come into my 

VIC: I told — 

CARLSON: That's all I'm asking, Vic. Now, I 
kniiw you've got a point ot view, and I'd like 
to be able to meet you. Do you know how to 
reach me? 

VIC: What do you mean? 

(.:aRLSiW: My name is Barbara Carlson. 

VIC: I know your name. 

CARLSON: Okay, I'm m the phone book. I'll 
give you my number right ni)w it you want to 
call me at home. ^ — 

VIC: No, no, can I just — 

c:.ARLSON: Scare you, does it scare you? 

VIC: No. I'm just trying to let your audience 
know that everybody ain't out there carrying 
guns. There are a lot ot peiiple like me out 
there who're trying to do something tor 

1 lARPl-R'S Nf.'\C.A7INE / lANUARY 1^W7 

themselves. I just wanted to let you know 
that 1 think people shouldn't he making 
gangs seem bad and stuff like that until they 
go after the gun manufacturers and every- 
thing and the people who make the drugs. 

CARLSON: [laughs] 

VIC: There was an article in the paper that the 
CIA, they funneled drugs into the black 
community. They are supposed to be — 

CARLSON: Vic, I've got a surprise for you. You 
have a choice. You can blame society. You 
can blame the fact that you are black, you 
can blame the fact that you are from Chica- 
go. You can blame the fact that there are 
gun manufacturers out there. You can blame, 
blame, blame, blame, blame. But you have 
choices in this life. You can choose to move 
out of your neighborhood. You can choose 
to get rid of the gun you are carrying. You 
have chosen to go to work. You can go to 
college. I promise you that if you are a smart 
kid — and you certainly sound like you are — 
then I can help you, and there are hundreds 
of others out there who can help you, too. 
The choice is yours. And I hope we'll get to- 
gether. Okay, thanks, Vic. 

VIC: Yeah. 

CARLSON: Thanks for the call, [silence, then 
sighs] Think I'll hear from him? Do you think 
he'll call.' Or do you think he just wants to 
let us know that there are good kids out 
there.' I know there are good kids out there. 
I've met lots of good kids. Don't think 1 
don't know that there are good kids out 
there. But isn't it sad, ladies and gentlemen, 
that he carries a gun? Now, he says he 
doesn't carry it every day, but he carries it 
when he goes to parties. And "dissing" is 
out. "Playing you" is in. We'll he hack with 
your calls in a moment. 



From "The Death of Camp," b^i Daniel Harris, in 
the Fall 1996 issue o/ Salmagundi. Harris's The 
Rise and Fall of Gay Culture will be published in 
May by Hyperion. His annotation of the cover of 
Out magazine appeared in the December 1995 is- 
sue o/ Harper's Magazine. 


'ometime in early adolescence, I aci^juired, 
while living in the very heart of Appahuhia — a 
land of lazy southern drawls — a British accent. 

No one around me had a British accent. My fa- 
ther was from Chicago Heights, my mother 
from Braggadocio, Missouri, and my peers were 
budding good old boys whose fathers drove 
tractors and pickup trucks and spoke in an un- 
musical twang that I, a pompous fop, found dis- 
tinctly undignified. Given the hearty, blue-col- 
lar community in which 1 grew up, the origin 
of my stilted style of delivery remained a com- 
plete mystery to me until, as an adult, I began 
to watch old movies. Over and over again in 
the voices of film divas as varied as Joan Craw- 
ford and Tallulah Bankhead, I heard the 
echc~)es of my own voice, the affected patrician 
accents of characters who conversed in a man- 
ufactured Hollywood idiom meant to suggest 
refinement and good breeding: Grace Kelly in 
Rear Window, Bette Davis in Mr. Skeffington, 
even Billie Burke as Glinda the Good Witch in 
The Wizard of Oz. 

The influence of Hollywood and its stars was 
so pervasive among young homosexuals like 
myself that it insinuated itself into our voices, 
weakening the grip of our regional accents and 
leaving in their place the artificial language of 
an imaginary elite — a type of English heard on- 
ly in the back lots of MGM and Twentieth 
Century Fox. To this day 1 have not succeeded 
in exorcising Joan, Bette, and Grace from my 
vocal cords. 

This strange act of ventriloquism represents 
the highest form of diva worship and is the di- 
rect outcome of my perception in my youth 
that, as a homosexual, 1 did not belong in the 
community in which I lived, that 1 was differ- 
ent, a castaway from scmiewhere else, some- 
where better, more elegant, more refined, a lit- 
tle Lord Fauiitleroy marooned in the 
wilderness. In my unconscious imitation of the 
great film stars, I was seeking to demonstrate 
my separateness, to show others how out of 
place 1 felt, and, moreover, to fight back 
against the hostility 1 sensed in the homopho- 
bic, redneck world around me by belittling its 
crudeness through displays of my c^wn polish 
and sophistication. 

1 was not attracted to Hollywood stars be- 
cause of their femininity, nor did my admira- 
tion of them reflect a burning desire to be a 
woman, as the homosexual's fascination with 
actresses is usually explained (as if diva worship 
were simply a ridiculous waste product of gen- 
der conflicts). For me and tor other gay men 
growing up before the gay-rights movement, 
our love of Hollywood was an expression not of 
flamboyant effeminacy but, in a very literal 
sense, of swaggering machismo. 

Despite appearances to the contrary, diva 
worship is in every respect as unfeminine as 
football. It is a hone-crushing spectator sport in 


From a series of embroidered "feminine merit badges" by Mary Yaeger, a Boulder, Colorado, artist. Yaeger's work will be on display in Ma 
the Kansas City Artists Coalition in Kansas City, Missouri. 

which one watches the triumph of feminine 
wiles over masculine wills, of a voluptuous 
woman single-handedly mowing down a line of 
hulking quarterbacks who fall dead at her feet, 
as in Double Indemnity , where Barbara Stan- 
wyck plays a scheming femme fatalc who bru- 
tally murders her husband and then dumps his 
lifeless body from a moving train in order to 
collect his insurance, or in Dead Ringer, where 
Bette Davis watches calmly as her dog lunges 
for the throat of her gigcilo boyfriend. 

Before gay liberation, homosexuals exploited 
these cold-blooded, manipulative figures to 
overcome the pervasive sense of powerlessness 
they experienced as a vilified minority. They 
modeled themselves on the appealing image of 
the thick-skinned androgyne, a distinctly mili- 
taristic figure who, with a suggestive leer and a 
deflating wisecrack, triumphed over the indig- 
nities of daily life. 

Quite by accident, then, the diva provided the 
psychological model for gay militancy. When 
drag queens fought hack at Stonewall, chances 
are that what they had on their minds was the 
shameless chutzpah of their film icons. Shit-kick- 
ing amazons in sequins, ermine, and lame be- 
came so integral to the hoinosexual self-image 
that they helped gays tap hidden reservoirs of 
masculinity and look at themselves as something 
more than perpetual victims, despicable pansies 
too weak to defend themselves from 
the brutality of the police. 


rony was always present in gays mvolve- 
ment with celebrities, partly because of the ho- 
mosexnal'.s sly awareness that he was misusing 
something as naive and wholesome as popular 
culture, with its Kansas-bred Dorothys and its 
Norman Rockwell happy endings, to reinforce 

something as illicit and undergrouiid as his sol- 
idarity with other homosexuals. As time went 
on, however, the note of facetiousness implicit 
in many gay men's treatment of Hollywood be- 
came louder and louder, until the wry smile of 
camp became the cackling shriek of the man 
who ct)uld no longer take seriously the divas he 
once adored. By the 1980s and '90s, the pan- 
theon of immortals, while still treated rever- 
ently by many gay men, had become fair game 
for ridicule, as when New York drag queens 
commemorated the 1981 release of Mommie 
Dearest by dressing up as Joan Crawford and 
kicking life-size effigies of her daughter, 
Christina, up and down Christopher Street. 

One of the reasons for the change from idol- 
atry to ridicule, from Joan Crawford as be- 
witching siren to Joan Crawford as ax-wielding, 
child-beating, lesbian drunk, is that in the 
minds of younger homosexuals the diva came 
to be perceived as an outmoded icon, a symbol 
of an oppressed early stage in gay culture. 
While gays are still obsessed with celebrities 
(although primarily as a political force, a P.R. 
tool for promoting "visibility"), young gay men 
no longer need diva worship as a source of em- 
powerment and community. Quite simply, we 
outgrew our idols, who could not keep pace 
with our own political development. 

As a result, divas have been retired as politi- 
cal vehicles and consigned to a museum of gay 
kitsch. The temple of celebrity worship was pil- 
laged and defiled, and the sacred vestments be- 
came dresses for drag shows, with gay men 
wearing the girlish ponytails arid clown- white 
makeup of the ravaged Bette Davis in What 
Ever Happerted to Baby Jane? or wrapping them- 
selves in the muumuus of Shelley Winters. 
This new fascination with the diva as kitsch, a 

26 HARPER'S MA( .AZINH / lANtiARY 10^7 

laughingstock, a reptile in a dress who cussed 
like a trooper and threw drunken tantrums in 
public places, was the result not only of gays' 
increasing social power but of the very nature 
of glamour and the medium of film itself. 

As embodied in the great actresses, glamour 
was meant to seem immortal and changeless, a 
state of effortless perfection. In the course of 
the most catastrophic events, the celebrity's 
makeup and coiffure remained as stunning as if 
she had just stepped out of a beauty parlor, no 
matter how many natural disasters she rode 
through unscathed, how many burning build- 
ings collapsed around her as she fled, or how 
many hired hit men chased her breathlessly 
through the streets as she skipped along like a 
triathlete on stiletto heels. It was the actress's 
superciliousness, her indifference to what was 
happening around her, that appealed so strong- 
ly to gay men. 

In real life, however, the women on whom gay 
men modeled their internal divas were unable to 
live up to these cniel standards of perfection. Be- 
cause glamorous actresses attempted to seem in- 
destructible, they were plagued by bathos, by the 
ever-present danger of mess, by the threat of ac- 
cidents — the slip of a foot, the split of a seam, 
spills, stains — but, most important, by the in- 
evitability of old age. The drunken Dietrich, tot- 
tering on high heels, fell face-first into the or- 
chestra pit during at least two of her concerts, 
while Bette Davis's wig fell off when she was 
carted away, plastered, from a ceremony at which 
she was accepting an award. Judy Garland forgot 
the lyrics to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" 
and, stoned out of her mind during one of her 
concerts, belted out "San Francisco" while the 
orchestra played "Chicago." 

Indeed, the very camera that exalted these 
women was also the agent of their downfall. A 
power intrinsic to the medium of film — its abil- 
ity to record the ravages of time — created an 
essential element of modern homosexual camp: 
its obsession with decay, decomposition, and 
decrepitude. By the 1950s, the careers of Die- 
trich, Crawford, Davis, and Hayworth were es- 
sentially over. But — and herein lies the secret 
ingredient of gay men's recipe for camp — long 
after these idols' reputations had begun to de- 
cline, the cameras kept rolling so that these sex 
goddesses turned into withered hags before our 
very eyes, shriveling up into mummies as they 
fought tooth and nail to revive their waning 
careers, finally sinking into the unfathomable 
depths of B-grade horror flicks, playing ax-mur- 
deresses and psychotic forgotten stars. And 
then, with the advent of television, the broad- 
cast of old movies drove the final nails inr<- 
their coffins: gay men were suddenly able to 
see, virtually side by side, what these women 

once were and what they had become, watch- 
ing one night a glamorous Bette Davis at the 
height of her career in The Letter and the next 
a battered old crone in What Ever Happened to 

Without the late show, there is no camp, for 
camp is about the death of glamour, about the 
shattering of the sacrosanct illusion of youth 
and invulnerability, about knocking the idol off 
her pedestal and dragging her through the mud, 
subjecting her decrepitude to the same scrutiny 
to which the medium of film once subjected her 
beauty. In the New York drag festival Wigstock, 
celebrity desecration figures so prominently 



From "Driveways of the Rich & Famous" Recipe 
Booklet, a pamphlet written and piibhshed by ]ohn 
Cunningham. Cunningham is the host of Drive- 
ways of the Rich & Famous, a public-access tele- 
vision show in which he visits the homes of celebrities 
and interviews their neighbors and servants . 


.n her final years, Bette Davis lived in a West 
Hollywood apartment. Her doorman spoke on 
my show about his contact with the actress. Al- 
though there is no way to know what Ms. 
Davis's favorite recipe might have been, 1 did 
get to ask the doorman what he likes to cook. 

1 lb. ground beef 1 '/4 cups water 

1 pkg. sloppy joe mix 6 oz. tomato paste 

Brown ground beef in skillet. Add other in- 
gredients. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occa- 
sionally. Spoon onto toasted hamburger buns. 

Viewers will remember an interview with 
Shelley Winters's neighbor. Ms. Winters appar- 
ently wasn't too pleased about the interview, 
and she spoke quite loudly to her cable compa- 
ny about it. Below, the neighbor offers his fami- 
ly recipe for rum cake as an apology to Shelley. 

1 pkq. yellow cake mix '/i cup cold water 

1 pkg. instant vanilla 4 eggs 

pudding mix Vi cup Bacardi rum 

'A cup Wesson nil (80 proof) 

Combine ingredients. Bake 40-60 minutes at 
325 degrees in greased and floured 10" tube pan. 


that the whole spectacle often dej^enerates into 
a funeral in honor of the dead diva, who is pa- 
raded around hy ghoulish drag-queen pallbear- 
ers, by men dressed up as Agnes Moorehead af- 
ter she breaks her neck in Hush. . . Hush, Sivcet 
Charlotte, or Psycho's Janet Leigh mauled by 

Out of a sense ot disillusionment, homosex- 
uals have created a macabre form of ethnic 
humor in which they dance on their former 
role models' graves (this is sometimes nearly 
literal; the drag performer known as Dead 
Marilyn impersonates a cadaverous Marilyn 
Monroe exhumed from her crypt, her body 
scarred with the bloody gashes of her autop- 
sy). In so doing, they relive again and again 
the hilarious realization that the diva was not 
a goddess, that she was flesh and blood, that 
she got fat just like they did, that she got 
wrinkled just like they did, that she had a mis- 
erable life and crippling diseases and financial 
crises and even died just like they did, but 
with one major difference: in the case o( the 
diva, the press was there to get it all dt)wn, tii 
record every pratfall and black eye and lesbian 
affair and drug overdose and nose job and trip 
to the fat farm. 

The irreverent humor of the drag queen — 
dressed up as a trembling Katharine Hepburn, a 
dazed Peggy Lee in a scarf and black shades, or a 
haggard Tippi Hedren in The Birds, her teased- 
up wig a nest of carnivorous sparrows and sea 
gulls — represents the last gasp of idol worship in 
a secular age, the passing of a mode of religious 
experience, whose funeral gay men celebrate 
with delightfully deranged fervor. Camp is the 
satirical requiem of the heathen fetishist who 
has lost faith in his idol, the final rite of a reli- 
gion that has outlived its usefulness. 



From "Coi(r(s/ii/) Makes a LAjmchack," by Jim and 
Anne Ryun, in the November 1995 issue oj Focus 
on the Family, a monlhly Indihshed hy the Focus 
(ni the Family ministry in Gohnado Sprinjj^s. Last 
hlovemher, ]im K>'uri, a Relmhlican from Kansas, 
was elected to the Hoitse oj Rehresentatives. 


.eather, how would you like to go to 
a movie Saturday night.'" 

Our daughter hesitated. She didn't know 
the young man standing before her in the ciil- 

lege student union, but even if she had, she 
wouldn't have accepted his offer — at least not 
yet. His inquiry needed to be directed to her 
father. Heather mustered her resolve. "Well," 
she said, "1 wtuild really prefer that you talked 
with my dad first." 

Then, without giving the fellow a chance to 
respond, Heather made a beeline for her dor- 
mitory. I'm never j?oing to hear from this guy 
again, she thought. In fact, I'm going to he the 
Umghingstock of the campus . 

Heather has been a willing participant in our 
family decision to dispense with the dating 
game. Our choice grew partly out of personal 
experience: as teenagers, we had encountered 
some of the drawbacks and dangers of dating. 
When 1 (Anne) dated, my heart became emo- 
tionally tied to my steady, which resulted in 
wounds of rejection that lasted for years. We 
wanted something better for our children. 

Courtship is one of the best ways we've 
found til achieve that goal. If a young man 
wants to date a young woman, he contacts her 
father to ask permission. During that first 
meeting or phone call, the father explains that 
the family believes in courtship, which means 
that the young man must be spiritually and fi- 
nancially prepared to marry the young woman 
if they fall in love — otherwise, he shouldn't 
even bother to start a relationship. (As for our 
sons, they know they must meet the same re- 
quirements before they can begin courting a 
young wc^man.) This means, in effect, that 
there will be no courtship or dating during the 
high sch(H)l years, and perhaps not until after 
college gniduation. 

Before you dismiss courtship as impractical, 
outmoded, or just plain weird, take some time 
to weigh its benefits against the drawbacks of 
dating. For starters, dating can be a setup for 
divorce. The current thinking goes like this: If 
I like this guy (or girl) , I'll go out with him a few 
times. Ij it doesn't ivork out, we can always break 
i(/?. It simply does not make sense to train for a 
U)ng-term marriage by pursuing what is all too 
often a series of short-term relationships. Even 
in a lasting marriage, the baggage left over 
fnim previous dating relationships can be frus- 
trating and painful. As Christian parents, we 
talk a lot about sexual abstinence, but we 
should n\>i) keep in mind the need for emo- 
tional abstinence. 

Courtship also brings practical benefits. For 
one thing, bringing Dad into the picture takes 
the responsibility ft)r saying yes or no to a rela- 
tionship off a daughter's shoulders. If Heather is 
not interested in a young man, 1 (Jiin) can 
break the news gently without damaging their 
friendship or the young man's walk with (Christ. 

Perhaps the biggest benefit of courtship is 


irom a series of photographs by Stuart trccdman u/ the /cic remaining "ax'owed virgins" in rural Albania. In keepiyig with Albanian tra- 
tion, the woman pictured above, Selman Brahim, renounced her femininity at age thirteen when her father died and she assumed the 
lie of head of the family; she is considered to be a man by her relatives and fellow villagers. Some of Freedman' s photogi'aphs appeared 
. the November 3, J 996, issue of The Sunday Review, the magazine of the London Independent. 

that it also allows us, as a family, to better un- 
derstand the person interested in one of our 
children. Dating means waving goodbye at the 
door and saying, "Be home by midnight," 
whereas courtship includes time spent with the 
entire family. In our home, a young man inter- 
ested in Heather or our youngest daughter, 
Catharine, is apt to find himself playing bas- 
ketball with our twin sons, Ned and Drew, or 
helping out in the kitchen after dinner. 

Our practice may seem like a relic from the 
1890s, especially for today's young people in 
their college years. Indeed, the fellow who want- 
ed to go out with Heather did call our home, but 
after hearing Jim's explanation of courtship, he 
opted not to pursue the relationship. 

That incident happened nearly six years ago. 
Since then, we have continued to practice 
courtship. So far, none of our children is mar- 
ried, but we aren't worried, since we know God 
has a plan for their lives. Catharine said it best 
when she described courtship as a process that 
allows her to "concentrate my energies on do- 
ing what God wants me to do, rather than on 
what 1 want to do." 



By Christopher Huwell, m the Autumn 1996 issue 
of The Gettysburg Review. Howell is the author, 
most recently , o/ Memory and Heaven. 

At Agincourt King Henr/ said, "First 

bastard who runs gets his jewels 

on a plate," or words to that effect. 

His sidekick the Duke of Gloucester 

remarked some mtwemenr of th':- birds 

in a spinney of winter birclv..'S oit 

to the left. Several men larred 

into the prc-combat silence. Arcliers 

on the flanks were cracking wi^e about 

the Queen's fey scribe sent along to write 

rbe whole thing up. There was more 

farting because some (if the Jiorses 

had died and the men had eaten them 

to the very great distressing of their bowels. 

All night it had rained as the archers 
(.irove a bristling breastwork of sbarjiened 






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stakes that tu::ily cliUalric Frenchmen 
would later try to charge through 
on their hlindered and caparisoned war steeds. 
The htirse meat was raw and muddy; 
thi)ugh some ot it, men swore, was served 
by fluffy angels in blue hats. In the soup 
of rain and dung and pKiwed ground, those 
who could sleep had thrown down in full 
armor against inclines of the cold ditches. 
Some whores from the village came round 
hut the priests ran them off — both tacts 
left out of the scribe's sensible and fervid 
battle piece scrawled on bleached mule hide 
and holed up, now, in a vault at the British 

Anyway, it was the mcnnent before 
the first French charge, after the giggling 
archers had drawn back their ashwood bows 
and rained a six-thousand-shaft volley onto 
the noble armored heads of the French cavalry, 
deafening hail of ball bearings on a tin roof. 
Things were e]uiet as could be then 
for everyone, after the ringing stopped, 
when up out of nowhere flew a clutch of white 
doves, which circled three times between 
the two poised belligerents in array and, 
in the scribe's telling, "a-cryd out as one 
voyse fore to taken each mann merci on hys 
anymys. And ther was much astonyshment 
before the charage." 

Later, after the wildly retreating French 

horse had collided with their own infantry 

tottering headlong the other way, after 

the English archers had laid down their bows 

and with giant mallets set to the beturtled 

knights in all their shit-stained iron, someone 

remarked the birds again, 

turned mute, crowlike and aimless as programs 

fluttering from the darkened galleries 

of the next six hundred years. 



From "The Unknown Soldier," by Luc Same. 
Sante read the essay at "(In)Visihle Cities," a con- 
ference that took place last September at Cooper 
Union college in Manhattan. Various New York- 
ers were asked to portray the city from the point of 
view of an "urban persona." Sante is the author oj 
Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York. 


,he last thing I saw was a hallway ceiling, 
four feet wide, with a plaster molding that 
looked like a long row of small fish, each trying 

to swallow the one aheatl o\ it. The last thing I 
saw was a crack of yellow sky between build- 
ings, partly obscured by a line of laundry. The 
last thing 1 saw was the parapet, and beyond it 
the trees. The last thing 1 saw was his badge, 
but I couldn't tell you the number. The last 
thing 1 saw was a full shot glass, slid along by 
somebody who clapped me on the back. The 
last thing 1 saw was the sedan that came barrel- 
ing straight at me while I thought. It's okay, 
I'm safely behind the window of the doughnut 
shop. The last thing I saw was a boot, right 
foot, with nails protruding from the instep. The 
last thing 1 saw was a turd. The last thing 1 saw 
was a cobble. The last thing 1 saw was night. 

I lost my balance crossing Broadway and was 
trampled by a team of brewery horses. I was 
winching myself up the side of a six-story house 
on a board platform with a load of nails for the 
cornice when the weak part of the rope hit the 
pulley sideways and got sheared. 1 lost my way 
in snowdrifts half a block from my apartment. I 
drank a bottle of carbolic acid not really know- 
ing whether I meant to or not. I got very cold 
and coughed and forgot things. 1 went out to a 
yard to try and give birth in secret, but some- 
thing happened. I met a policeman who mis- 
took me for somebody else. I was drunk on my 
birthday and fell off the dock trying to grab a 
gold piece that looked like it was floating. I was 
hanged in the courtyard of the Tombs before a 
cheering crowd and people clogging the 
rooftops of buildings, but I still say that rascal 
had it coming. I stole a loaf of bread and start- 
ed eating it as I ran down the street, but there 
was a wad of raw dough in the middle that got 
caught in my thrciat. 1 was supposed to get up 
early that morning, but I couldn't move. I 
heard a sort of whistling noise above my head 
as 1 was passing by the post office, and that's all 
I know. I was hustling a customer who looked 
like a real swell, but when we got upstairs he 
pulled out a razor. I owed a lot of rent and got 
put out and that night curled up in somebody 
else's doorway, and he came home in a bad 
mood. I ate some oysters I dug up myself. I felt 
very hot and shaky and strange, and everybody 
in the shop was looking at me, and 1 kept try- 
ing to tell them that I'd be all right in a 
minute, but I just couldn't get it out. 

I never woke up as the fumes snaked into my 
room. I stood yelling as he stabbed me again and 
again. 1 shot up the bag as soon as I got home, 
but I thought it smelled funny when I cooked it. 
I was asleep in the park when these kids came 
by. I crawled out the window and felt sick look- 
ing down, so 1 just threw myself out and looked 
up as I fell. I thought I could get warm by burn- 
ing some newspaper in a soup pot. I went to 
pieces very slowly and was happy when it finally 


om a series of photographs by Maria Miesenberger . Miesenherger reshoots and manipulates family photographs taken during her childhood 
Sweden and Austria. Her work will be on display next month at the Silverstein Gallery in New York City. She lives in Stockholm. 


stopped. I thought the train was going way too 
fast, but I kept on reading. I let this guy pick me 
up at the party, and sometime later we went off 
in his car. I felt real sick, but the nurse thought 1 
was kidding. 1 jumped over to the other fire es- 
cape, but my foot slipped. I thought I had time 
to cross the street. I thought the floor would 
support my weight. 1 thought nobody could 
touch me. 1 never knew what hit me. 

They put me in a hag. They nailed me up in a 
box. They walked me down Mulberry Street fol- 
lowed by altar boys and four priests under a 
canopy and everybody in the neighborhood 
singing the "Libera Me Domine." They collected 
me in pieces all through the park. They laid me 
in state under the rotunda for three days. They 
engraved my name on the pediment. They drew 
my collar up to my chin to hide the hole in my 
neck. They laughed about me over baked meats 
and rye whiskey. They didn't know who I was 
when they fished me out and still didn't know six 
months later. They held my body for ransom and 
collected, but by that time they had burned it. 
They never found me. They threw me in the ce- 
ment mixer. They heaped all of us into a trench 
and stuck a monument on top. They cut me up 

at the medical school. They weighed down my 
ankles and tossed me in the drink. Tliey named a 
dormitory after me. They gave speeches claiming 
1 was some kind of tin saint. They hauled me 
away in the ashman's cart. They put me on a 
boat and took me to an island. They tried to 
keep my mother from throwing herself in after 
me. They bought me my first suit and dressed me 
up in it. They marched to City Hall holding can- 
dles and shouting my name. They forgot all 
about me and took down my picture. 

So give my eyes to the eye bank, give my • 
blood to the blood bank. Make my hair into 
switches, put my teeth into rattles, sell my 
heart to the junkman. Give my spleen to the 
mayor. Hook my lungs to an engine. Stretch 
my guts down the avenue. Stick my head on a 
pike, plug my spine to the third rail, throw my 
liver and lights to the winner. Grind my nails 
up with sage and camphor and sell it under the 
counter. Set my hands in the window as a re- 
minder. Take my name from me and make it a 
verb. Think of me when you run out of money. 
Remember me when you fall on the sidewalk. 
Mention me when they ask you what hap- 
pened. 1 am everywhere under your feet. b 


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The lure of gunfire 
and the enemy within 


I've never known precisely what to call it, 
but this is how it begins: heat, thick trop- 
ical heat, still air that smells of sweat and 
paddy water, and Athuma being led into the 
hut, the afternoon sun behind her so that she is 
only a silhouette against the hard light. She 
moves toward me, emerges from shadow, and I 
see her, always as if for the first time, a slender 
woman with long black hair, a floral-print 
sarong, and that is where I stop it — I've be- 
come quite good at stopping it there. But if I 
am not vigilant, the scene continues. Athuma 
is in the wicker chair, just four feet away, and 
then she leans toward me, looks into my eyes — 
hers are brown with flecks of yellow — and is 
about to speak, and if 1 am not vigilant, 1 hear 
her voice again. 

What I can say is that this remembrance 
comes when it wants to. I can be content or un- 
happy, on a crowded street or standing alone, I 
can be anywhere at any time, and I will sudden- 
ly be returned to that hut, all the sounds and 
smells and tastes there waiting for me, the black 
silhouette of Athuma fixed in my eye like a 
sunspot, and until I close off the vision there is 
the peculiar feeling that I am being asked ro try 

again to save Athuma, that the events of that 
day ten years ago have yet to be lived. 

The sensation comes on this night, the 
second of November 1995. I am in 
Chechnya, standing in the courtyard of 
a house, trying to count off the artillery against 
the sky. Normally, this is not difficult — you see 
the flash and count off, five seconds to a mile, 
until you hear the blast — but on this night so 
many shells fall their flashes are like sheet light- 
ning against the low clouds, the roar rolling 
over the land, a steady white noise of war. 

But I am patient when it comes to such 
things, and I wait for my moment. I spot three 
quick, nearly overlapping, pulses of light streak 
out along the base of the clouds, and I begin to 
count. I count for a long time, so long 1 imag- 
ine I've missed the moment, but at fifty-five 
seconds 1 hear it: three soft knocks, little more 
than taps amid the avalanche of sound. 

Fifty-five seconds. Eleven miles. They are 
shelling Bamut again. It is a small village up in 
the mountains, a place I think about so much I 
no longer even refer to it by name. They have 
shelled it every night I have been in Chech- 


. ^x u 

Scott Anderson is a contributing editor of Harper's MH).;;i:ine Hr, most recent article, "Looking for Mr. Yaponchik," 
appeared in the December 1995 issue. He is co-author, mth his hother, Jon Lee Anderson, o/ War Zones: Voices from 
the World's Killing Grounds. He is at work oti Bad Places, a hook about the war in Cliechnya, as well as on a novel. 






m^ '"^ 

nya — just a tew dnzcn roun>.is some nights, sc\'- 
eral huni.lrcd on t)rhcrs. The shellinsj; has never 
been as hea\y as tonight. 

As 1 ha\'e done many times these past tew 
days, 1 travel the p.ith to the village in my 
mind. Not eleven miles by road, more like thir- 
ty-tive. The paved road cuts across the hroad 
plain until it climbs 
into the foothills. Af- 
ter a time, a narrow 
dirt track appears, 
and it leads across the 
river and into the 
mountains. At some 
unmarketl spcu on 
this tr<ick, i>erhaps an 
hour or sii past the 
river, neutral grouni.1 
is left and the war 
zone begins. One is then quite close to the vil- 
lage, maybe just another halt hour, but there 
are mines sometimes, and sometimes the heli- 
copter gunships sneak in over the hills to de- 
stroy whatever they find. 

The road ends at the village. It is built along 
the exposed flank oi a mountain valley, and 
the Russians are on the surrounding heights 
with their tanks and artillery batteries. The 
way in is also the only way out, but any deci- 
sion to leave is up to the rebels, and they do 
not trust outsiders. Since this war began eleven 
months ago, a number of people have vanished 
in the village, and there are stories ot torture, 
that some of those missing were buried alive. 1 
have been frightened ot the place since I tirst 
heard ot it. On this night, its name sounds like 
death to me. 

I am both asti)nished and appalled by what is 
about to happen. 1 havt come to Chechnya to 
look for a middle-aged Aaiierican man who dis- 
appeared here seven months ago. He was last 
seen alive in the village. 1 did not know this 
man, and he is dead, oi coLirse, bur there is a 
part ot me that has not acci'prei.1 this, that holds 
to the fantastic notion that he is still alive and 1 
might save him, and in the morning I will go to 
the village in hopes of finding him. 

But this is nothing; who cares it I choose to 
do something stupid.^ What is appalling is that 
1 have maneuvered totir others mto sharing my 
journey, and on this night, I can no longer ig- 
nore the fact that 1 have done this simply be- 
cause 1 need them, each of them, that in the 
very simple moral equation between my needs 
and the safety ot iithers, I have chosen myselt. 
Nt)t that this changes much; even now, 1 teel 
incapable ot stopping what I have engineered. 

If 1 wanted to keep things simple, 1 would 
say that this is a story about war, about modern 
war and the way it is toLight. Or I would say 

story reassure me of this) 
ething about that day I H r 

thai this is a story about obsession, the da(;e 
ous lure ot taith and hope. What wou 
harder for me to explain is that this is a 
story about truth. Not the truth of the miitj 
rational, intellectual, able to make order ol|( 
chao-s — but emotional truth, what is knowiHe 
fore the mind takes over, what seeps in 
the mind relaxes, the truth your heart belt 

Rationally, 1 know 1 did not kill Athur 
was in a difficult situatitMi, and I did w 
could under the circumstances to save her. 
mind myself of this often. The few peopll 
whom I've told the s 

But there is st)me 
never told anyone. Before Athuma was led ) 
the hut, I believed 1 was the one they mear ;i 
kill. When the vision comes and I am « i 
back to that afternoon, my very first sensal l 
upon seeing Athuma is relief, a profound re';l 
because it is only then 1 understand that In 
to live, that it is she who is about to die. .■ u 
in that moment, there is the blossoming ot v 
own private truth. Emotional, irrational-!:( 
anyone else, perhaps absurd — but whenev* 
see Athuma's silhouette, I believe that sh is 
coming forward to die in my place, that o •.< 
again 1 am being called upon to play a partii 
her murder. ' 

1 don't wish to make too much of this. W'i( 
happened to me is nothing compared wh 
what happens to other people in war. And,i 
course, what happened to me is nothing cc 
pared with what happened to Athuma. 

Yet the events in that hut carved a neat 
\isu)n in my life. Before I was one way, and 
terward 1 was another. And just as my life 
fore made it inevitable that one day I wo 
come tace-to-tace with Athuma — some Atl 
ma — so after her it was inevitable that one l 
1 would come to this night in Chechnya. 

Itirst went to war because I thought 
would he exciting — and I was right, 
the most exciting thing 1 have ever exj 
rienced, a level of excitement so overwhelm 
as to be impossible to prepare tor, impossible 
ever forget. 

This attraction is not something to be d 
cussed in polite company, ot course. Yet I km 
I am hardly alone in my reaction. For a gre 
number ot people, and perhaps especially t 
those who traditionally have been called upt 
to wage it — young men — war has always bet 
an object of intense fascination, viewed as lift 
ultimate test, its most awful thrill. Of all tl 
easy, comfortable aphorisms that have ev 
been coined about war — that it is hell, that 
tries men's souls — I suspect the odd utteranc 
of General Robert E. Lee, made at the Battle 
Fredericksburg in December 1862, may com 

I lAKTER'S MAC lA/'INH / |ANl 'ARV 1 W7 

;st to capturing the complicated emotions 

■ose who have actually experienced it. "It is 

that war is so terrible," Lee said, gazing 

a valley where thousands of soldiers would 

die, "or we should grow too fond of it." 

at if the guilty attraction endures, it now 

es with a heavier price. This is because the 

em war zone bears little resemblance to 

I of 130, or even 50, years ago. What were 

'li;i; the traditional inhabitants of a battle- 

! — soldiers, or journalists like myself — to- 

represent only a tiny minority, their num- 

overwhelmed by the purely innocent, the 

111; dans who find themselves trapped in war's 

. On this modern battlefield, comparisons 

he Fredericksburgs and Waterloos and 

idalcanals of history — ritualized slaughters 

veen opposing armies — are largely useless. 

a true comparison, one must reach back to 

1 at his most primitive, to the time when 

jarous hordes swept over the countryside 

ng waste to everything and everyone in 

!_jir path, when a "battlefield" was defined 

ply by the presence of victims. 

V few simple statistics illustrate this regres- 

1. In the American Civil War, civilian casu- 

ss were so low that no one even bothered to 

nt them. From 1900 to 1950, civilians con- 

■jted roughly 50 percent of all war-related ca- 

Ities. By the 1960s, civilians represented 63 

percent of all casualties, and by the 1980s, the 
figure was 74 percent. For every "conventional 
war," such as Operation Desert Storm, that 
pushes the percentage down a fraction, there is a 
Bosnia or a Rwanda that sends it ever upward. 
The world has seen many of these wars. Since 
1980, according to Worhi Military ayvi Social Ex- 
penditures, a periodic compendium, 73 wars have 
raged around the globe. "War," of course, is a 
relative term. According to human rights 
groups, last year alone there were 22 "high in- 
tensity conflicts" (defined as 1,000 or more 
deaths), 39 "low intensity conflicts," and 40 "se- 
rious disputes." The 250-odd wars of this century 
have taken a collective toll of 110 million lives. 
There are those who say that the truest mark of 
the last hundred years is not industrialism, or 
the rise of America, or the moon landing, or the 
computer, but the waging of war — that war is 
the greatest art form of our century. Human in- 
genuity, it appears, has perfected the technolo- 
gies of death and, like a kid with a new sling- 
shot, cannot help but find targets everywhere. 

The result is that today's "hallowed ground" 
is not at all like the pastoral valley Robert E. 
Lee gazed upon at Fredericksburg, is barren of 
the trappings of heroic folly that can be im- 
mortalized by poets and painters. Instead, this 
hallowed ground is a ditch or a filthy alley or a 
cluster of burned homes, and it is inordinately 



'I I 

lOtographs by James N.ichlwc-y / M;iniuini I'hnlc 

FlILIO ^7 


%"• -^ 

populated by the elderly, hy imnhers and their 
children, by tl"n)se nut quick enough to escape. 

To be sure, there are the lucky few who are 
able to traverse this landscape with a degree of 
physical iiiiinunity (journalists, most obviously, 
but also soldiers and guerrillas now that most 
"battle" means the risk-tree killing ot the de- 
fenseless rather than Hghtuig other combat- 
ants), hut even they cannot arrange an immu- 
nity for the soul. If for them war still holds an 
excitement, it is an excitement that the healthy 
conscience recognizes as obscene. And if war 
can still be viewed as life's greatest challenge, it 
is now less a test of any concept of courage or 
manhood than of simple human resiliency. 

As a child, I always thought of war as some- 
thing that would eventually find me. The 
youngest son of an American foreign-aid officer, 
I was raised in the East Asian nations of South 
Korea and Taiwan, briefly in Indonesia — "front- 
line states," as they were called in the 1960s, in 
the global military crusade against Communism. 
Although culturally very different, there was a 
certain ctmtinuity to these places: in each, the 
people lived in thrall of a venal American-allied 
dictatorship, soldiers ruled the streets under 
martial law or state-of-siege decrees, aiid the 
long-awaited Red invasion, we were constantly 
told, could come at any moment. In South Ko- 
rea, soldiers rounded up and imprisoned student 
demonstrators, then labeled them Communist 
provocateurs. The entrance to my elementary 
school in Taiwan was guarded by an enormous 
antiaircraft gun, two soldiers constantly scan- 
ning the skies with binoculars for some sign of 
the marauding Red Chinese. Every October 
10 — Double-Ten Day — Chiang Kai-Shek 
amassed tens oi thousands of his troops in 
Taipei's central square and exhorted them to 
war, crying, "Back to the Mainland!" as cheers 
rang and artillery souiuIclI. 

This spirit of war was all around me. My father 
had fought in World War 11, had been an eyewit- 
ness to the attack on Pearl Harbor. My godfather 
was an Air Force major. As the Vietnam War es- 
calated in the late '60s, our small American en- 
clave ill the hills above Taipei became home to 
the families oi army officers fighting there, their 
children my new playmates. When I was seven, 
the first G.I. I knew, George, gave my brother 
and me green berets from Saigon and took us to 
the Taipei zoo — this was on his last R&.R visit 
before he was killed in the Mekong Delta. 

War, then, came to .seem like a natural phe- 
nomenon to me, a cyclical storm always mass- 
ing on the near horizon. Eventually, 1 was sure, 
the right conditions would develop, the winds 
would shift, and war would come to where I 
was. Because this was in the natural order of 
tbmgs, 1 was not frightened; if anything, 1 

awaited it with impatience. I looked forw; 
Double-Ten Day the way other childreP 
Christmas, and each time 1 watched Cia( 
Kai-Shek an enfeebled fist in the ai 
squawk his call to battle, I felt a shivering] 
and thought to myself, "This time he me 
this time it's really going to happen." 

Rut as fate would have it, war neve 
come to me. Instead, 1 had to go find it 
twenty-four and it was August of 1983. 

For five months, a girlfriend and I had ra 
eled through Europe, hitchhiking and I 
packing, slowly going through the monq 
had saved from a year of working in re 
rants. In Athens, we were down to $30 
our return tickets to the United States. Nelh 
o( us wanted to go home yet, but we differu ( 
how best to forestall it. She was leaning toai 
picking grapes in Italy or hanging out on a f 
butz in Israel. I was leaning toward Beirut 

Beirut had been in the news a lot that 
Since the Israeli invasion of Lebanon the p! 
ous summer, the city had sunk ever deeper 
chat«, a free-fire zone for a bewildering arr; 
armies and private militias. Four Wester 
tions — the United States, Britain, Fnince.ti 
Italy — had sent in troops, the Multuiatni: 
Peacekeeping Force, to restore order, and o 
they were being attacked as well; by August .it 
American Embassy had been torn in halt ' 
car bomb that killed sixty-three, and a tier 
odd Marines had been killed or wouni.le. j 
their isolated outposts around the city. 

I'd heard vague stories about how news aji' 
cies ani.1 wire services were always lookiiiL'O 
"stringers" in dangerous, newsworthy pla ;s 
and Beirut seemed to fit the bill. Just w a 
"stringing" entailed, 1 hadn't a clue, but I n n 
aged to convince my girlfriend otherwise. 

From the moment we stepped off the plan a 
Beirut airport and I saw the shell-pocked tci i 
nal bLiilding, the ring of tanks and armored [i 
sonnel cars, the soldiers holding back a h ',t 
throng of civilians desperate to find some \>y 
any way, out of the city, 1 felt 1 was in a f imi d 
place, the place of my childhood visions. 

And, I must admit, it was just as thrilling 1 
always imagined it would be. At night, 1 lax r 
bed and listened to the crack of sniper tire ; J 
the peculiar feline scream of Katyusha rock<s 
the low rumble of artillery from the battles t :• 
ing place in the Chouf foothills some titttr 
miles away. By day, 1 was a tourist of war. Mil 
mornings, 1 would leave the relative safety il 
our hotel on Rue Hamra, a inain commerLi 
street of West Beirut, and walk the mile do 
to the shattered old city center around Mart ' 
Square, inch my way as close as possible to t 
firefights that periodically sprang up along r 
Green Line, the no-man's-land separati . 


*a! slim West Beirut from the Christian East. 
'Jffn Iking the ruined streets, past buildings that 
been blasted so many times they resembled 
Lting houses of wax, hearing the occasional 
ishot echo from some unseen sniper, 1 felt 
uisitely alive. It was as if I had supernatural 
I'ers: I heard the slightest sound from blocks 
ly, my vision seemed telescopic, 1 could iso- 
; the faintest scents in the air. And through 
ill came a strange, ethereal quality, a sense 
it I wasn't really there but viewing every- 
Qg from a remove, through a lens; and this 
ility rendered pedestrian issues — of self- 
servation, of what was bravery and what was 
pidity — moot. 1 was invisible, invulnerable; 
ullet could not find me. 

could justify my 
irism, of course: 1 was 
Dking for a job. As 1 
ide the rounds of the dif- 
ent news bureaus, I was 
;eted with puzzlement, 
xed, 1 imagine, with 
ntempt — the same con- 
tnpt 1 would later feel 
len meeting dilettantes 
war zones. Some jour- 
lists urged me to leave Beirut. Others were 
ietly encouraging: the level of violence was 
b )t yet to a point where they needed another 
nd, but I was to check back if something big 

1 had been swept up in the madness of the 

ace, but my girlfriend had not. To her, Beirut 

is just an ever-unfolding tragedy. The sight of 

te amputees hobbling along the waterfront 

omenade, the white fear in the faces of the 

)ung Marines guarding the new American 

inbassy saddened her to tears, and after a few 

eiys she stopped accompanying me on my 

Tjalks, would stay in the hotel reading books 

id writing letters. 

I One day, a firefight that had started down at 

le Green Line in the early morning gradually 

loved up the hill toward us; by noon, 1 esti- 

lated it to be about a half-mile away, the con- 

ussions causing the hotel room to shake. 1 had 

iarned to temper my enthusiasm around my 

irlfriend — it disgusted her — and for an hour or 

3 I pretended to read, trying to invent a plau- 

ible excuse to go outside. 

"1 think I'll check in with Reuters," I said, 
3ssing my book aside. "Want to come?" 

She looked up from her letter writing. She 
/as not the least bit fooled. "Go ahead." 

With guilty pleasure, 1 left the hotel and 

tarted down Rue Hamra, which was oddly de- 

erted, in the direction of the shooting. When 

came to Clemen^eau Place, I stopped. 

The small park had once been beautiful but 





had long ago been destroyed, most of its trees 
shorn to stumps by shellfire. 1 had walked 
through Clemengeau Place many times on my 
wanderings to the old city center, another half- 
mile on, and there were usually vendors and 
children, old men lolling on the grass. On this 
day there was no one. 

The gunfire sounded very close, and 1 stud- 
ied the buildings on the far side of the park for 
snipers. For the first time since arriving in 
Beirut, I felt a glimmer of dread, made stronger 
somehow by the bright sunlight and heavy 
stillness of the leaves in the few remaining 
trees. I decided to go back, but as I turned, I 
saw an Arab man standing perhaps twenty feet 
away. I was startled that 1 
hadn't noticed him before. 
He wore a long white robe, 
appeared to be about forty, 
and he, too, was staring 
across the park, as if wait- 
ing for some sign. 

1 don't know who 

stepped first, but without 

words passing, we started 

through the park together. 

We walked at the same 

speed, separated by some twenty feet, and out 

of the comer of my eye 1 saw the white of his 

robe, and it encouraged me. 

We had gone only a very short distance, 
maybe thirty paces, when the white of his robe 
slipped from my vision. I stopped and looked 
over to him. He was standing still, his head 
bent forward, and 1 saw that he was working 
his lips furiously, licking them, biting them, 
the way some insane people do. Then he began 
to walk in a small, tight circle, his left leg kick- 
ing oui, his right dragging slightly, his lips still 
moving but producing no sound. After his sec- 
ond or third turn on the walkway, I noticed a 
small red spot on his robe, over his heart, and 1 
saw how this spot grew each time he turned to 
face me. After five or six circles, he abruptly sat 
down on the concrete, the force causing his 
head to jerk, his legs .splayed out before him. 
With the thumb and forefinger of both hands, 
he pinched the fabric of his robe on either side 
of the spreading red spot and pulled it away 
from his chest, as if it were a stain he did not 
want to have touch his skin. 

1 felt rooted to the ground. I knew that I 
should either go to him or run, get out of 
Clemengeau Place, but 1 was incapable of de- 
ciding. Then the man fell onto his left side, his 
hands not breaking his fa!!, his fingers still 
clutchuig the fabric, and I knew he was dead 
from the way his body settled on the concrete. 1 
turned and walked back the way we had come. 
As I returned to the hotel, I tried to find 


nicanini^ in \vli;it haJ happcncil. 1 liad just 
watched a person die, and 1 knew it had to 
mean something, hut no matter how hard 1 
tried, 1 simply could not imhue the event with 
much siyniticance. We had walked together 
across the park, and a hullet had come, and it 
had found him and it not fi)und me, ani.1 
he had died and I had noi. That was all. 

It took me some time to realize that this — 
the sheer lack of meaning in what had hap- 
pened — was the lesson. War's first horror is not 
that people die for perverse reasons, for a cause, 
hut that they i.lie for no discernihle reascm at 
all. They die hecause they j^uess wrong. They 
seek shelter in huildings when they should flee 

the ache in your knees, then in your uw iffi' 
chest, and hefore long you can start imagiii 
that it is insitie you and will not leave. 1 va 
der if this is why people go mad during hf 
hardments; not the fear of a cjuick death, .i 
shell finding you, hut the fear of a slow c» 
the sense that the constant thrummi 
through your hody is inflicting violence f*i 
within. And in Chechnya, these thoughtssi 
from eleven miles away, from perfect safety, f 
The courtyard I am standing in is an exp;)6 
of concrete enclosed hy an eight-foot hit 
wall. Along the far wall is a fallow flower Ki 
cross the concrete and step onto the hare ea;fl 
The vibrations are much softer here, barely 1; 


1 !•<).-> 


onto open grounLl, they stay on open ground 
when they should hide in buildings, rhey trust 
in their neighbors when they should fear them, 
and none of it is knowable — nothing is re- 
vealed as foolish or wrong or naive — until it is 
too late. All that the death in Clemenc^eau 
Place meant was that the Arab man should not 
have attempted to cross the park that after- 
noon, and it was this very paucity of meaning 
that stunned me, that 1 wished not to see. 

Others have likenei.1 the souni.1 of an 
artillery bombari.lment to the sky be- 
ing rippeel apart. I don't know. What 
1 can say is that after a time it no longer even 
seems like a sound but something animate. It 
tra\els through tlie ground, and you first feel 

ticeable. I lean my back against the wal 
soothed by the stillness. 

Ryan comes out of the house. I realize by tl 
way he peers around the courtyard that I 
can't see me in the dark. For a momeiit I thin 
he will go back inside, hut then he sits on th 
steps, leans onto his knees. 

I am not in the mood to deal with Ryan. H 
is twenty-two — a kid, really, considering wherl 
I have brought him — and a couple of years ag' 
he left his native Southern California tf 
scratch out an existence teaching English it 
Moscow. When I offered him $150 a day t(' 
come to Chechnya as my interpreter. In 
jumped at the chance. He is a good guy, intelli 
gent and sweet-natured, but he left behind ; 
pleasant life in Moscow, a girlfriend he want: 

40 1 lARPKR'S MAC ;A7INH / lANHARY 1^7 

'f up|aarry, and he has no idea what he has gi)t- 
'W himself into. I have not told him that he 
4 chosen to make this journey simply he- 
's Mic no one else would. 
1) should feel grateful to Ryan, hut I don't, 
her, he irritates me. I have attributed this 
lis talkativeness, his fierce determination to 
every minute of his days with words. When 
first arrived here, 1 tried to explain that the 
>t important safeguard on a battlefield was 
isten, but Ryan has either been unwilling or 
:ble to heed this advice — and on this matter 
ive not been patient. Now I tell him to be 
eai et fifteen or twenty times a day, and the 
re he talks the less I do. 
\fter some minutes, I step from the flower bed 
walk softly across the courtyard. I'm only a 
: feet away when Ryan jumps, startled by my 
^cnce. "Whoa," he says. "Where were you?" 
don't answer. 

de moves over on the step, clearing a space 
me, but I remain standing, lean against the 
ir railing. I feel the ache in my knees again 
.' vibrations in the metal rail against my 
lulder. "They're really blasting the shit out 
it, aren't they?" Ryan says. 
[ don't answer. 

'It's never been this bad before. Are they do- 
; air strikes?" 

'Tanks and artillery," I reply. "No planes." 
I'm quite sure he doesn't like me — how 
aid he like someone who tells him to shut up 
enty times a day? — but Ryan maintains ap- 
arances. More than anything, I think he is 
pressed by how I watch and listen out here, 
agines me to be something of an idiot savant 
ren it comes to gauging danger. 
He has no way of realizing that, in fact, 1 
low very little. Even though it is elementary 
lysics, I do not know, for example, it the 
unds I hear, which I carefully count off each 
ght, come when the shells are launched or 
aen they explode. 1 don't know if the count is 
town off by wind or topography. I don't real- 
know if what I am hearing are tank or ar- 
ilery rounds. And I still imagine that knowing 
lese things could be important, that knowl- 
jlge alone might somehow keep us safe. 
! "Do you believe the stories about them bury- 
jig people alive?" Ryan asks. 
I "They're rumors," I say. 
"I know, but do you think they're true.'" 
He is apprehensive, of course, as we all are, 
nd it would take very little from me to reas- 
ire him, to at least take the edge off. 
"How would 1 know?" I say. "How in the 







One night six weeks ago, 1 sat on the hack 
fa houseboat on a Texas lake with the twenty- 
ine-year-old son of the man 1 have come to 

look for. We sat there for many hours, drink- 
ing beer and talking — about women and foot- 
ball and Mexico, only occasionally about his 
father. At around 4:00 A.M., after a long si- 
lence, both of us staring out at the black wa- 
ter, he turned to me. 

"1 don't want you 
to go to Chechnya," 
he said. "It's not 
worth it. My father's 
dead. It's not worth 
someone else getting 

The son had re- 
cently ended his own 
four-month search for 
his father in Chech- 
nya, and over the course of a few days in Texas 
we had become close. Now he stared down at 
the beer can clasped in his hand, then took a 
gulp from it. "At least promise me you won't do 
anything crazy." 

He was not used to talking to another man 
in this heartfelt way, and neither was I. I drank 
from my beer and looked out at the water. "I 

In the six weeks since that night, I have of- 
fered a number of variations on this promise. 
To my family and friends, it was that I would 
he careful, that I would not do anything fool- 
ish. To those who knew the details of the story, 
it was more specific, that I would not attempt 
to reach the village. I was asked to make this 
promise so many times that I began to deliver 
it preemptively — "well, I'm certainly not going 
to take any chances" — reinforcing the point 
with an incredulous little laugh, as if the very 
idea was bizarre. And the truth is, before I 
came here I believed my promises. 

"What it they start shelling while we're 
there?" Ryan asks. 

I turn to him. He is looking up at me, moon- 
faced. This is something I haven't considered. 
In the time we've been in Chechnya, they 
have never shelled the village during the day, 
always at night, and we have planned our jour- 
ney to be well away before dark. But they've 
never shelled the village as they are doing 
tonight, and it finally occurs to me that it 
might be the prelude to a ground assault. 

'"Get into a ditch," I say. "If there isn't a 
ditch, gel to a low wall, the closest low wall 
you see." 

1 think of telling him more — of explaining 
why lie should go to a low wall instead of a 
hij4h one, that if he can see the explosions it 
means that he is against an exposed wall and 
needs to get around to the other side — hut I 
know he won't remeinher any of it it shells start 
coming in. i doubt he'll even remember the lit- 



HMIO 41 


rle I'\e siiiJ, ani.1 I have an image of him stand- 
ing in the middle ot a road — slack-jawed and 
paralyzed — as the world around him disappears. 

"You have to understand something," 1 tell 
him. "You will he t)n your own. In an artillery 
attack, everyt)ne is on their own. If you freeze 
and stay in the open, I won't come out for you, 
no one will come out for you. It's not like in 
the movies. Do you understand?" 

Ryan nods, hut in his eyes I see a hint at he- 
musement, as if he is trying to he respectful and 
suitahly grave but not really buying any of it. I 
am reminded of what 1 must 
have been like at his age, 
politely enduring the lec- 
tures of the correspondents 
and photographers in 
Beirut. I'm sure I had the 
same reaction, the same ex- 
pression. At twenty-two, 
you can't conceive of dying. 

But this is a different sit- 
uation than Beirut — Ryan ■'■■■■■■ib^^^m 
is here because I am here, 
he is following me — and his expression means 
quite a bit more. In his eyes, he is saying, "1 
know you won't leave me out there, I know 
you'll come out for me," and that smugness, 
that juvenile conviction that I will protect 
him, angers me. 

It is then that I understand the deeper 
source of my irritation with Ryan. I am irritat- 
ed by how easily and blithely he left his girl- 
friend, his happy, pauper's life in Moscow, and 
placed his fate in the hands of someone like me 
for $150 a day. I cannot possibly blame him for 
this — I would have done the same at his age — 
but I am infuriated by his trust in me. 







lor a long tunc, I did not learn any- 
thing wortii knowing by going to war, 
and then, finally, I did. It happened 
on a November evening in 1986 in Uganda, 
maybe an hour before dark, when, glancing out 
the window of a moving car, I saw an old man, 
thin and bare-chested, standing in an over- 
grown field, swinging a machete. 

I think what 1 first noticed was the intensity 
with which he worked. In Uganda, as every- 
where in rlu- tropics, people laboring in the 
fields pace themselves for the heat, maintain a 
slow, steady rhythm, but this old man wielded 
his machete with a passionate energy, arcing it 
high over his head, swinging it down hard. I 
asked my driver to stop the car and, from the 
open window, watcheel the old man for a few 
minutes. Then 1 got out anel started across the 
field towan.1 him. 

The grass was very high, almost to my chest, 
and 1 remember thinking it oekl how uneven 

the ground was, how it kept crunching hd 
my feet. Hearing my approach, theUs ' 
stopped his work and watched me. I savjSi'E'l 
he was not as old as I had thought, perhaj or* 
ly forty-five or so, his face and body agetprj ^ 
maturely by peasant life. I couldn't read hei 
pression — not friendly, not curious, real n 
expression at all beyond a steady stare. I .htI 
to the space he had cleared and saw thetvi 
piles he was making — one of clothing, anihi 
of hones — and I understood then that wefei 
standing in a killing field, that the crun&ii 
I'd felt under my feet»v 
been the breaking oh 
man bones. 

1 had come to Ugan 
because my older brokici 
Jon Lee, and I were wrir 
a book together. Wena 
already coUaborateco 
one book, and this timw 
decided to compile an n 
history of modern wa'b 
spending a year going in 
one war zone to the next interviewing soKei 
and guerrillas and the civilians caught betwei 
them. With a meager advance from a publh 
er, we packed our hags and set out, to Nortbn 
Ireland, to the Sudan, now to Uganda, wl r 
one cycle of civil war had recently ended k 
another had just started. 

Beginning a few miles north of the capitEO 
Kampala was the Luwero Triangle, a verd:ii 
patch of farmland that had once been hom«t< 
one million members of the Baganda tribe, (e 
tween 1981 and early 1986, it had been k 
vortex of a civil war that drifted into genoc e 
the Ugandan military had sealed off the Tria 
gle and tried to erase it from existence, razj 
villages, murdering an estimated quarter 
lion people, and sending the rest into the hi 
or to concentration camps. When Jon Lee t J 
I arrived in October 1986, the old governmi i 
was gone, the rebels were in power, and tr 
survivors were starting to return. They ca .- 
back to a place where nature had reclaimed i el 
fields, where their shattered homes had settM] 
to mud, and in every village they builuj 
memorial to the horror that had been visit 11 
on them, a display of the bones and skulls f 
their fallen. 

For several weeks, we made periodic sojour; 
into the Triangle, interviewing survivoi, 
chronicling the atrocities, watching the ht 
vest of the dead. Everywhere were people ct 
rying bundles of bones on their backs, on tht 
heads, hauling them to communal place 
where the remains were laid out with math 
matical orderliness — tibias in one row, spin 
in another, skulls arrayed in de.scending ord 


31 IT 



I saw 






f the 






I ize. The survivors then walked among these 
ilays, studying first one skull and then an- 
er, hoping, it seemed, that they might 
lehow recognize those that belonged to 
ir own families. It was as if, in their state of 
tended shock, they had reverted to what 
y knew: gathering from the fields, carrying 
narket, examining the yield. 
Vith Jon Lee up north, tracking the newest 
le of war, I had decided to make one more 
) into the Triangle. It was while leaving, 
iding back to Kampala with another tape 
lection of atrocities, that 1 noticed the man 
:he field with his machete. 
There are things about that evening 1 can- 
; explain. The man and I never spoke, but I 
uitively knew a good deal about him. 1 knew 
had just returned to the Triangle, that the 
ling field was his land, that he was looking 
his family. I began to help him. 
This was not easy, because there is nothing 
thematical or orderly about a killing field, 
nid the weeds, bits of rotted cloth were 
igfiewn like garbage, tamped into the earth by 
i rains, and the bones lay scattered without 
ttern — a pelvic bone here, two skulls there. I 
Tiember thinking that it was pointless, that 
: would never be able to find what the farmer 
IS looking for, but then 1 saw that he had a 
item. The bones he ignored, just threw them 
ito the pile. It was the clothes he studied, 
ich time his slashing revealed a piece of 
Dth, he would lift it with the tip of his ma- 
lete and scrutinize it for a familiar pattern he- 
re throwing it on the pile and going on. 
1 found a stick and began to do the same. 1 
ould poke at the cloth until it came free from 
ria le earth or the bones it encased, then pick it 
eip with the end of the stick and carry it to 
im. He would stop his labors to look it over, 
laybe scrape off some dirt to see the pattern, 
id then he would turn away without a word, 
id I'd drop the cloth on the pile and go back 
) my spot. 

We went on like that for a long time, maybe 
tljiirty or forty mmutes. The sun dropped to the 
ee line, and the land started to get that heavy 
old light that comes to the tropics in the 
vening. I remember thinking how beautiful it 
'as out there, how peaceful despite what had 
appened, as if the land were trying to heal it- 
elf, and then I realized I wasn't hearing the 
brush of the machete anymore, and 1 straight- 
ned out of the tall grass and turned toward the 
i|armer. He was about thirty feet away, standing 
tock-still and staring at me. A piece of brown 
ind white cloth hung from the tip of his ma- 
:hete, and even from that distance I could see it 
vas part of a woman's dress, that he had found 
lis wife's dress. In his eyes was a hatred deeper 

than any I had ever felt, a rage without end, and 
I realized it wasn't passing through me, it wasn't 
as if I happened to be where his eyes were fixed: 
the hatred was directed at me, meant for me. 

I didn't know what to do, so I didn't do any- 
thing. I didn't go to him, I didn't speak, I don't 
think I even looked sad for him. The most I 
could do was avert my gaze, stare off across the 
field. Then I turned and went back to the car 
and told my driver to take me to Kampala. I 
know I didn't look back, but sometimes I 
imagine I did, and in this false memory, the 
farmer is watching me go, the scrap of his 
wife's dress dangling from his blade, and across 
the expanse of the sunstruck field I feel the 
burn of his hatred. 

And here, finally, was something worth 
learning. War is all about hatred, and the ha- 
tred between combatants is only the easiest 
kind. At that moment of discovery, I believe 
the farmer hated all the world, not just the 
men who had murdered his family: he hated 
me for being a witness, hated himself for hav- 
ing survived, hated his wife for dying and leav- 
ing him alone. After that evening, I under- 
stood that it is impossible to go through a war 
and not learn how to hate. 

Every morning in Chechnya I awaken 
with a start, instantly alert, and this 
morning is no different. Out the win- 
dow, I see the blue-black of dawn. I stare up at 
the ceiling and listen. Somewhere far off is the 
sound of a rooster. The shelling has stopped. I 
think of who will be making the trip today, 
three of us in this house, two others sleeping a 
half-mile away. I estimate the time to be 5:00 
A.M. We are to leave at 8:00. 

I go to the basin and throw water on my 
face, then walk through the house. All is 
bathed in the milky wash of first light. I pass 
Ryan. He is sprawled on the bed, snoring. 
Nothing interrupts his sleep. 

The front room holds a table with four chairs 
and the narrow cot where Stanley sleeps. He is 
on his back, perfectly still, his hands folded on 
his chest. Every time I've seen him asleep he is 
in this position, as if he doesn't move at all dur- 
ing the night. Stanley is forty-six, ten years old- 
er than 1 am, an American living in Paris. He 
arrived in Moscow two weeks ago wearing an 
all-black outfit — black hiking boots, black 
jeans, black shirt, black jacket, black knit cap — 
and he has not changed out of it since. 

Our first meeting was marked by a certain 
mutual wariness. I knew Stanley had a reputa- 
tion for taking chances, a war photographer who 
liked to get as close as possible to his subject 
matter, and his manner at that first meeting — 
his low-pulse calm, the watchful stare of his 


SI l{ 


talismans into 
a\:ar zones 



eyes — made me winder it he might jjet us killed 
in Chechnya. I knew he was wondering the 
same thing ahout me. I think we hoth saw re- 
flections of ourselves in the other, and this was 
hoth good and had: we could count on the t)ther 
to watch and listen, to know what to do in a \\k\ 
situation, hut it wasn't like there was going to he 
safety in numhers on this trip. Whatever affinity 
exists hetween us does 
not translate into a 
need to share personal 
information. What we 
talk ahout, when we 
talk, is the wars we 
have been to and 
where this iine is 

Before we got to 
Chechnya, 1 had no 
intention of trying to 
reach the village; the journey was impossible, 
insane. But, as often happens in these sorts of 
situations, there occurred a confluence of 
events, of coincidences, that began to make it 
seem possible — and then, quite quickly, what 
had seemed merely possible began to feel like 
destiny. 1 happened to meet a rebel liaison who 
said the journey could be arranged, who even 
wrote out a coded message of introduction for 
me to present to the village commander. Then 
I happened to meet Alex, a relief worker with a 
four-wheel-drive ambulance and a stockpile of 
medical supplies, who agreed to attempt a 
"mercy mission" into the village, with us — 
Stanley, Ryan, and me — going along on the 
pretense of documenting the humanitarian ef- 
fort. With such an extraordinary convergence 
of good luck, how could I not go' 

Of course, riding this wave of good fortune 
meant overlooking certain details. The man I 
was looking for had also gone to the village 
with an interpreter and rebel credentials. He, 
too, had gone in an ambulance laden with 
medical supplies. And he had gone with an in- 
surance factor I could not hope to arrange: two 
doctors who were knciwn in the village. None 
of it had helped; the doctors and the inter- 
preter had simply disappeared as well. 

As the days here pass, though, it has become 
increasingly easy to forget all this. A kind of 
resignation has settled upon us. Events are hap- 
pening of their own accord, momentum has 
built to such a degree that there are no longer 
any decisions to be made. Whether due to des- 
tiny or some kind of group psychosis, we are 
being propelled forward; the time for debate 
and reason has slipped away. 

In the front rtxim of the house, I quietly pull 
a chair out from the table. It makes a creak 
when 1 sit, and 1 glance over at Stanley. He is a 

light sleeper, given to popping up at the slij 
est sound, but the noise doesn't rouse him. 

My notebook is on the table, and I 
through the pages until I find the encoded 
ter of introduction from the rebel liaison, 
not. really a letter but one word written in 
ink on a yellow Post-it note, with a coupl 
odd, Arabic-looking symbols at the end of 
word ani.1 three quick dots above it. 

It suddenly occurs to me that the co^ 
meaning is unknown to us, that our "safe p| 
sage" note to the village commander could 
tually say something very different, could e 
be our execution order. In this new ligh 
study what has been written. Why three di 
Maybe three dots mean "friend" and two mti|_ 
"foe." Or maybe it's just the reverse. Maybe ft 
liaison meant to make only two, but his ha 
slipped and left a mark that wasn't supposed 
be there. Maybe the dots don't mean anyth 
at all and what I should really be focusing 
are the Arabic-lcxiking symbols. I find it be 
remarkable and humiliatiiig that my futi 
might be decided by a word hastily scrawled 
a Post-it note, but there is no choice in t 
matter and finally 1 give up. 

1 turn to a blank page in my notebook aij 
take up my pen. 

Many years agt), my brother, far more expe: 
enced in war than I, tried to teach me to calc 
late the risks before going into a battle zone, 
arrive at a percentage chance that somethii 
bad might happen. "Your cutoff should be 
percent," jon Lee had told me. "If it's higb 
than 25 percent, you don't do it." 

It wasn't a true equation, of course — ju 
hunches and intuition, guesses contrived t 
look like math — and I'd never had much fair 
in my ability ti) weigh factors properly, but oi 
this morning I try. 

I try to imagine the chance that the Russiar: 
will attack the road while we're on it and dc 
cide on 10 percent each way: 20 percent. I tr 
to imagine the chance that the rebels in th 
village will think we are spies. Here, at least 
there is some empirical evidence to wort 
with — those who have gone to the village am 
disappeared. I decide on 50 percent. 

Seventy percent. I have never done any 
thing anywhere near 70 percent. 

I decide these numbers are way too high. them out and start again. Five percent li> 
the drive each way, 30 percent for the vill;i!4L 
40 percent. Still too high. Five percerit tuta 
tor the drive, 25 percent for the village: 30 per 
cent. Out of curiosity, I calculate the odds o' 
being unlucky at Russian roulette — a little les^ 
than 17 percent — and then decide the whole 
exercise is a waste of time, that either some- 
thing will happen or it won't. 





'^ ut my fatalism wavers. I stare at the two 
es of paper in front of me, the word in blue 
on the Post-it note, my calculations on the 
;. I turn in the chair and look at Stanley. 
n though he is asleep, 1 am surprised that 
'iol :annot feel my stare, that some unconscious 
'Pilm doesn't trigger him awake. I slowly press 
inst the chair back until it creaks. I wait for 
eyes to snap open, for him to bolt up in the 
and meet my gaze. 

I believe that if Stanley wakes up right now, 
ill tell him we're not going to do it. I believe 
ill show him the numbers in my notebook, 
ilain that we might die over what is written 
c if 'the Post-it note, tell him that it was a crazy 
a, that I am frightened. But Stanley doesn't 
Ice up, and 1 lack the courage to make him. 


t some point, I began to take relics 
with me when going into war zones. 

It started unconsciously — a 

ishell here, a girlfriend's silver earring 

oti ere — but my collection steadily grew 

itil it filled a small plastic bag tucked 

a corner of my rucksack. I think at 

5t I carried these things because they 

ninded me of the world outside of war, 

all and lightweight links to my normal 

s; it was comforting to fiddle with an 

i Budweiser bottle cap or a Lion Brand 

atchbox or a familiar stone bead when 

A'as bored or lost, when I was waiting 

r something to happen or something to 

id in a dangerous place. 

Gradually, though, I saw that my relics 

ere becoming talismans. I developed 

e habit of carrying some of them in the 

ft front pocket of my trousers, occasion- 

ly replacing them with others from my 

astic bag. 1 knew this was a bad sign, for 

I meant that I was inventing good luck 

b keep me safe, that my sense of immu- 

ity was gone. 

Late one night in mid-January 1987, 1 
ly on a deck chair beside the pool of the 
ialle Face Hotel in Colombo, the princi- 
al city of Sri Lanka, smoking cigarettes 
nd staring up at the fronds of palm trees, 
crashing and black against the sky. In 
ly left front pocket was an American bi- 
entennial quarter, the key to an apart- 
aent I no longer lived in, and a tiny 
nteater figurine made from yellow rub- 
ier. Behind my head was a stone seawall 
gainst which the Indian Ocean — turbu- 
ent and at high tide — rhythmically 

The Galle Face, built at the height of 
he British empire, was a pile of ma- 
logany and rattan, slow- turning fans and 

ocean breezes, but in 1987 the civil war in Sri 
Lanka was entering its fourth year and the 
tourists had long since abandoned "The Pearl of 
Asia." Now the Galle Face and the other luxury 
hotels along the Colombo waterfront were vir- 
tually shuttered, their lobbies filled with forlorn 
maids and bellhops and reservatiori clerks. On 
afternoons, my brother and 1 would sit by the 
Galle Face pool, the only charges for the five 
uniformed attendants there. 

The first time 1 climbed the seawall and pre- 
pared to dive into the ocean the attendants be- 
seeched me to stop. It was dangerous to swim 
there, they said, there were reefs and sharks, 
strong currents that could sweep me out into 
the shipping lanes. I looked out at the sea. The 
waves were high, cresting at eight or ten feet, 
and it was true that no one was in the water. I 
told the attendants I would be fine and dove 
in. On that first day, 1 went out only a short 


^ - 

! i; 



distance, iniiybe fifty yards, treading water and 
riding the swells, and wlien I turned, 1 saw the 
five of them in a rt)w behind the seawall, star- 
ing at me. 1 waved and they all wa\'ed back. 

It became a daily ritual, and each day 1 went 
out farther, out to where 1 could begin to teel 
the current pulling me away, and where 1 had 
to struggle a little harder to get back. And each 
day the attendants and I exchanged ciur reas- 
suring waves across the water. 

I could not explain to them that 1 went iiito 
the ocean because there 1 felt in control over 
what happened to me. At least in the (xean 1 
knew the dangers I faced, and the effort to stay 
calm, to override the fear oi riptides and sharks 
and deep water, was an act of free will and a 
measure of power. How could I possibly explain 
this to the attendants.' For them, caught in a 
country at war, their futures and their chil- 
dren's futures becoming bleaker by the day, 
such a needless tempting of fate could be 
viewed only as an absurd extravagance. Better 
that they regarded me as an imusual athlete or 
a friendly fool. 

Earlier that night, I had set out across the 
city in a restless search for diversion and had 
ended up at the former Hyatt hotel. With its 
vast vacant atrium and ascending tiers of emp- 
ty rooms, the hotel had the feel of a great mau- 
soleum that no one visited, its gloom deepened 
by a spirit of desperate optimism: piped Indian 
pop music — frenetic and reedy — drifted on the 
still air, and at various intervals in the hollow 
building teams of cleaning wom.en rubbed its 
marble and gold to a high polish, as if prepar- 
ing for a party. 

There were four customers in the lounge, 
three Asian businessmen at a table and a white 
man sitting alone at the bar. He was in his 
mid-thirties, with short blond hair, and he 
perked up at the sight of me, as if he had been 
awaiting my arrival. 1 sat a few stools away, or- 
dered a beer, and within seconds he was at my 
elbow, his hand extended. 

"New in?" he asked. "Where are you posted.'" 

His name was James, a thirty-year-old 
Briton, a mercenary pilot for the Sri Lankan 
government. It was an open secret that for 
more than a year the government had em- 
ployed several dozen mercenaries — or "con- 
tract officers" — to run their air war against the 
Tamil Tiger guerrillas, and that it was now in 
the process of hiring more; James, in Colombo 
on a five-day R&R, had assumed 1 was one of 
the new arrivals. Although a bit disappointed 
to learn t)therwise, he chose to make the best 
of it; it was not like he was gi)ing to find any- 
one else to talk to that night. 

He told me that he flew a helicopter gunship 
and that his particular beat was the laffna la- 


goon on the northern tip of the islan*! 
placed him at the center of one of the \i 
most crucial battlegrounds. The Tigers sa 
held the narrow Jaffna petiinsula for over t.e 
years and had repelled every army offern* 
against it, but they had one huge vulnerab^ 
all their supplies, from food to bullets to n 
cine, had to ct)me in by sea. A vital route 
across the ten-mile expanse of the Jaffn 
goon. In the past year, James and his fei>i 
ct)ntract officers had turned the lagoon's w 
into a sluxiting gallery. 

"Aiiything that tries to go over," he 
"we kill it." 

My meeting James was serendipitous, 
ever since arriving in Sri Lanka, my bro 
and I hacl tried to devise some way to ge 
Jaffna. With the army controlling the peni 
la neck, we had been told that the only pi 
bility was aboard a Tiger supply boat tryin] 
run the lagoon, but we'd also been told tl 
such a venture would be extremely risky 
that the mercenary gunships were killing a| 
one they saw. After several beers that eveny 
in the old Hyatt, James came up with a plan. 

"Here's hcnv we can work it," he sa 
putting his hand on my shoulder. "We'll set 
a prearranged time for you to go over and co 
back, and I'll just stay out of that zone, 
would have to be a very small window, 
course, but as long as you keep to schedi 
there shouldn't be any problem." 

There was something both touching and ire 
ic about this offer. Watching James's earn^ 
face as he awaited my reaction, I knew that ev 
more than wanting to help me he wanted 
protect me. But I also thought of all the thi: 
that ct)uld go wrong and throw us off schedule 
a flat tire, a flooded boat engine, a long-wind| 
interview in Jaffna — how the smallest misst 
could set into motion a course of events whei 
by this lonely man in the cavern of a hotel b 
would, through no fault of his own, slip dov 
from the clouds to become our destroyer. We 
there's never a shortage of irony in war. As i 
was, all I could do was thank James for his < >t1 
and tell him I would consider it. 

But walking back to the Galle Face ili 
night, I had become aware of an odd discoi:iU 
in my chest. It was not an entirely new sens. 
tion, but on this night 1 felt it acutely, as or 
might feel the onset of a flu before it strike 
While lying in the lounge chair beside th 
darkened pool, staring up at the thrashing pali 
trees, 1 realized that 1 believed I might soon die 

At first, I was tempted to attribute this feel 
ing to my conversation with James, my apprt 
hensions about running the lagoon, but I kne\ 
it ran far deeper and had been with me ic 
some time. It was why 1 had begun to carry tal 


ans, perhaps even why I dove off the sea- 

1 to play with fate in the ocean's currents. It 

to do with punishment. 

finally understood that 1 was not merely an 

erver of war and never had been. 1 had al- 

■^ 78 been a participant — by my very presence I 

^ )1 been a participant — and war will always 

1 a way to punish those 

come to know it. 1 had 
tched people die. 1 had 

»'ijjlked through killing 
ds and felt human bones 
:ak beneath my feet. I 

1 picked up the skulls of 
xdered children and re- 

™i|anged them with an eye 
photographic composi- 
n. I had cajoled or in- 
po nidated or charmed 
^ )res of people into revealing their most inti- 
I i ite horrors, and then 1 had thanked them per- 
'B actorily and walked away. If I was to be pun- 
U led — and there were charms in my pocket to 
:» Festall this, there was an ocean behind my 
in. lad to hasten this — it would be because I de- 
ii ived it. God knows I deserved to be punished 

!• the things I'd seen. 
:c As it turned out, my brother and I did not 
tempt the Jaffna lagoon. Instead, we jour- 
;yed east, to the marshes and rice paddies 
mg the windward coast, to the Tigers fight- 
g there, to Athuma. 







t 7:45 A.M., minutes before we are to 
set out for the village, I tell Ryan and 
Stanley that I am going to the town 
uare for cigarettes and slip away from the 
Duse. The day has broken cool and the air is 
ear. By noon, the dust will rise to lie over the 
iwn like a shroud, but for now it is still wet 
ith dew, and in the distance the snowcapped 
iaucasus mountains shine like glass. 
In the square, the kiosk women are just set- 
ng up for the day, throwing open the wood 
flutters of their booths or laying out their 
ares on the sidewalk, blankets wrapped tight- 
over their shoulders. I buy three packs of 
larlboros and push them into my coat pocket. 
At one end of the square is a high school 
pd, next to it, a small park, its entrance domi- 
' ated by peeling portraits of men I do not rec- 
gnize. I have passed the place often in the past 
;w days, and on this morning I wander inside. 
It is a very modest park and suffering from 
eglect — the paving stones of its path are shar- 
isred, and nothing has been pruned or trimmed 
a a very long time — but at its center I come to 
j massive, marble monument, a small eternal 
lame burning at the base. It is a memorial to 
he town's dead from World War II, and in the 

black stone are chiseled scores of names. 

Standing before the flame and the list of war 
dead, I suddenly find that I am praying. I 
haven't prayed in twenty-five years and am not 
really sure anymore how it is done, if I'm sup- 
posed to preface it in some way or direct it to 
some god in particular. In any event, it is a self- 
ish prayer; for the soul of 
my dead mother, for the 
safety of my companions 
and myself on this journey. 

1 hear laughter behind 
my back, and I turn to see 
two schoolgirls sitting on a 
nearby bench, watching 
me and giggling. I am em- 
barrassed that they know 
what I am doing, that even 
though I haven't bowed 
my head or closed my eyes, they know I am 
praying. I stoop down to pick up a pebble from 
the path, then leave, finishing the prayer in my 
mind as I walk. In the left front pocket of my 
trousers is a fossilized shark's tooth from Flori- 
da, the keys to my apartment in New York, and 
a tiny 1973 two-kopeck coin I found in the 
gutter of a Moscow street. At the entrance to 
the park, I slide the pebble into my pocket, one 
more charm to keep me safe. 

In my absence, the ambulance has arrived at 
the house, and my companions stand in the 
street, waiting for me. The relief worker, Alex, 
is a tall, rail-thin Hungarian in his early thir- 
ties, an Oxford divinity student, of all things, 
on leave to perform rescue work in Chechnya. 
There is something in his quirky, rather dandy- 
ish manner — his vaguely British accent and 
soft stutter, the long woolen scarf he habitually 
wears- -that seems both charming and brave in 
its incongruity with this place. On this morn- 
ing, he appears to be in high spirits — clean- 
shaven and jaunty — and he bounds over the 
dirt road to shake my hand. 

"Nice weather for it," lie says, glancing up at 
the blue sky, "but I suspect we'll find mud in 
the mountains." He turns to me, still smiling 
his crooked smile. "In any event, perhaps we 
should take a closer look at this note from the 
liaison. Wouldn't want to walk into a trap of 
some sort, would we?" 

Alex says this without any hint of real con- 
cern, and I take the Post-it note from my back 
pocket. He studies the single word for a mo- 
ment, his fingers distractedly playing with the 
frame of his horn-rimmed glasses, then hands it 
to Asian. 

Asian reminds me of other young men I 
have known in other wars, the native "fixer" 
hired by Western visitors — journalists, relief 
workers — to get them in and out of dangerous 


places. He is in liis inid-rwcnrios, vvirh tiark 
hair, sLinfilasscs, aiul a Mack imitation-lcatlicr 
jacket. Others ha\e dressed dittereiit ly , i)t 
CDiirse, have been Asian nr African cir Latin, 
hut what unites them all is a cucky hemuse- 
inent at nur iync nance and had itleas. Asian 
glances quickly at the note and shrubs. 

"I don't know what it means. It's in cixle." 
"Nothing tor it, then," Alex says, merrily. 
"We'll just have to go and find mit." 

And so we set oft, the boxes ot nuxlical sup- 
plies — gauze bandages, glucose sttlution, anti- 
septic wash — jouncing and sliding in the am- 
bulance bay. We follow the path of my 
imagination: over the plain, into the foothills, 
and then there is the dirt track, the river, and 
we are in the mountains. The day is bright, a 
bbnilnig light reflecting off the snowcapped 
peaks to the st)uth, hut the small valleys below 
us are cloaked in morning shadow and fog. We 
are still on neutral ground, but that doesn't 
mean much here, and out oi habit 1 watch the 

his own private ambulance on a ridgeli 
the top ot the world. 

About an hour after crossing the river, 
sitting in the front passenger seat, suddnl 
points down the hillside. We are skirtiij 
mountain, somewhere near the unmarked to 
tier between neutral ground and war, anw 
the pasture below is a haphazard clustc^j 
large, rectangular stones. 

"They look like ruins," Alex says cxcitit 
"Old ruins." ^ 

As Asian continues to steer along the tijd 
the rest of us peer out the windows. lt|/i 
strange sight, this jumble of square-edged rtl 
in the middle ot nowhere, but not str 
enough to dispel our stupor ot silence. 

It was a very hot day. The air was ;■ 
and thick with the smell of paddy w 
and sweat, and when Athuma was lei. ;n 
to the hut, the sun was behind her so thai 
moment she was only a silhouette against Iffi 


valleys, look tor a flash of retractet^l light in a 
dark recess, a sucklen swirl in a fog cloud, for 
some sign that a trolling gLinship is rising out of 
the depths to meet us. Riit there is no flash or 
swirl, and the only siiLinds are those of the 
winel ani.1 the grinding ot the ambulance en- 
gine. We pass no one on the track — no cars, no 
homes — and we do not talk. It is as it each of 
us is making this journey utterly alone, each in 

light. That IS how 1 remember it, how it lcx)[ 
when 1 return to it. 

The day had startei,! off very differently, 
tact, it started the way I, as a child, had im;i' 
ined war would be but war hai.1 never bee( 
grand, cinematic. The night before, a messend 
had come with our instructions, and at noc 
Jon Lee and 1 had walked into the marketpla 
ot the government-held town and two Tig 





wa ■ 

^linliillas had suddenly appeared beside us on 
r motorcycles, motioning us to get on. 
re had been a wild, careening ride, down 
; streets and narrow alleys, dodging army 
(blocks and personnel carriers, until finally 
™fi Durst free from the town and were in the 
'Mnitryside, speeding past farmhouses and rice 
iies and palm trees, and my life had never 
so much like an adventure. 
•We, he sensation lasted for a time, through the 
I across the lagoon in the motorized canoe, 
ifte lugh the half-hour drive on the other side, 
amed in the back of a battered Jeep with a 
-dozen Tigers. It ended at an old farmhouse 
len in a grove of trees. It ended the moment 1 

le was twenty-seven years old, the Tiger 

3sstTimander for the region, with a pistol on his 

a potbelly, and dark, dead eyes. His young 

owers — weighted down by weapons of every 

3tf( d, ampoules of cyanide hanging on leather 

ngs around their necks — gathered close to 

side, as if posing for a group photo, as if 

e proximity to him bestowed status. And 

^ ause they were only boys, and because they 

i^ 1 been living in the bush, the Tigers could 

^ hide their excitement at our presence; they 

1^ ispered animatedly to one another, smiled 

^ ly in our direction. But not their leader. Ku- 

s^irappa stared without expression, his eyes un- 

K iking, as if we were not really there at all. 

^ The Sri Lankan army was closing in on Ku- 

•^ rappa's group. In the last few days, they had 

nched a series of lightning assaults in the area, 

iiing ever nearer to the base camp. Just that 

ming, helicopter gunships had swept in over 

lagoon and killed several people caught out 

the open. It was now only a matter of time — 

bably a very short time — before the army 

Si ived on the old farmhouse amid the rice pad- 

1 s, and if his boy followers hadn't figured that 

■ji : yet, it seemed that Kumarappa had; it was 

§ ng time, and Kumarappa was already there. 

^ He motioned for us to follow him to the main 

^ t, a long dark room with reed walls and a 

Itched roof. Four wicker chairs were arranged 

AJiLind a low table, and upon this table a young 

^ger placed three bottles of warm orange soda. 

yHunched in his chair, his weapon-laden 

ys gathered behind him, Kumarappa began 

talk of death, of the cyanide ampoules he 

Kiijd his Tigers would bite into when the final 

Dment came. 

fit's a good death. Yeah, it's a good death, 
jr soldiers do that. It's a very brave death . . . 
tinot afraid to die, you know.'" 
He talked of spies, of the .spies who were all 
3und him, in the villages, in the rice fields, 
en coming into the area from other places, 
ley were trained by British intelligence or 





the Israeli Mossad, maybe even the CIA, and 
Kumarappa was always uncovering them, get- 
ting them to confess, tying them tci lampposts 
and blowing off their heads as examples to oth- 
ers who would betray. 

"Sometimes we put them on the lamppost," 
he said, cradling his bottle of soda. "Sometimes, 
you know, we have the explosive wire — just 
around the body, and then we detonate it. This 
is our maximum punishment. We do it some- 
times. Two or three times we've done it." 

And as he spoke, 1 felt Kumarappa was 
studying me. I don't 
know if this was true 
or merely my imagi- 
nation, but every 
time his empty, dead 
eyes turned in my di- 
rection, I became 
more certain that I 
was the subtext of his 
rambling conversa- 
tion, that in me Ku- 
marappa was deciding 
if he had found his latest spy. 

Once this conviction took hold, it became 
paralyzing. Even as I tried to meet Kumarappa's 
stare — and it is impossible to stare for as long 
as a madman can — I knew that the fear was 
registering on my face, that I looked, in fact, 
very much like someone with a guilty secret. I 
felt caught in a deepening trap, fear giving way 
to a panic 1 wasn't sure I could suppress. At 
last, I simply dropped out of the conversation, 
let Jon Lee take over all the questioning, while 
1 busily scribbled in my notepad, peered up at 
the thatched ceiling as if in deep concentra- 
tion, anything to avoid Kumarappa's gaze. 

"We can show you one spy that we have 
caught," I heard Kumarappa say after a time. 
"Would you like to see a spy?" 

It was impossible to not look at him then, 
and when 1 did, 1 saw that he was watching me, 
the hint of an indulgent smile on his lips. It was 
the first time he had smiled, and it was the first 
time in my life I was sure I was about to die. 

1 don't know how long this belief lasted — at 
most a few seconds — but then I looked down 
the length of the hut, down the passage that 
had suddenly formed between the gathered 
Tigers, and at the far end I saw the silhouette of 
a woman in the light, a silhouette being led to- 
ward us. Tliat is when the belief left me, when I 
saw ! was to live, and this filled me with such 
relief and gmrituiie that 1 felt transported, as if 
on this broken-down farm in the marshlands a 
!-iidcoMS miracle had just occurred. 

They sal her across from me, in the empty 
vvickrr riinir beside Kumarappa. Ller name was 
Atliuma. She was thirty-six years old, the wile 

•■*', ■■%- 'rgl 


i ll 

FOLIO 4'5 

' %..' 

of a peasant farmer, the mother ot seven chil- 
dren. Amon^ the many events that had, no 
doubt, filled her short life, only the following 
were now important: 

The Sri Lankan army had taken her husband 
and tortured him until he was a cripple. They 
had taken her two youngest children and given 
them to the sister of a Sergeant Dissayanake. 
And then the army had told Athuma that she 
could change the situation, that everything 
would work t)ut, that there wt)uld he money for 
food and the children would be returned if only 
she gave Sergeant Dissayanake information 
about Kumarappa and his boy soldiers in the 
bush. And so, apparently, Athuma had. 

But Athuma had not been a good spy — peo- 
ple who are coerced into it rarely are — and 
very quickly, before she was able to report any- 
thing of importance, the Tigers had found her 
and brought her to Kumarappa. That was two 
days ago. After two days of torture — revealed 
in the swelling on her face, her shuffling, lop- 
sided gait as she walked toward us — -Athuma 
had ccinfessed to everything. There was now 
just a little more torturing to be done, and then 
it would be over. 

"She knows very well the final decision," 
Kumarappa said. "She knows we are going to 
kill her." 

And then Athuma began to beg for her life. 
It began as a soft whisper but gradually rose to 
a high-pitched chant, a disjointed blend of 
Tamil and English, and this pleading was not 
directed at Kumarappa but at us. 

"Save me, save me, save me." 

It continued for a long time, became a keen 
oil the edge of hysteria. Kumarappa turned in 
his chair to watch Athuma, appeared both 
bored and amused as she leaned civer the table, 
looking desperately between Jon Lee and me. 

"Save me, save me." 

And we tried. Slowly, gingerly, we felt 
around for some hidden corner in Kumarappa's 
heart. We went over the circumstances that 
had led Athuma into being a spy, the fact that 
she had not told the army anything damaging. 
We asked what would happen to her children, 
both the stolen ones and those here with their 
invalid father, if she were to die. 

But Kumarappa, his hands folded over his 
little potbelly, remained unmoved by any of 
this. Instead, a suspicious light came into his 
eyes, and this time there was no ambiguity, no 
mistaking what it meant; he was asking himself 
why these two foreign men were trying to res- 
cue this spy. 

As if Kumarappa's paranoia were infectious, 
the mood throughout the rotjm changed. The 
Tigers who were gathered behind him — friend- 
ly, unsophisticated boys a moment before — 

turned suddenly sullen and dark, their fa 
hard against us. 

"Save me, save me." 

Athuma leaned out from her chair t^ 
me, compelled me to look directly int 
eyes — hers were dark brown with flecks 
low — and 1 remember opening my mouth 
one more time, but even while looking intlih 
eyes, 1 felt the stare of Kumarappa and hiifci 
killers, and I couldn't speak. I turned to Joii« 
and in the gaze that passed between us 
agreement, an understanding that it was 
that we had tried and could not try anymon 

Athuma understood as well. As quietly 
had begun, her plea ended, and I will alwa 
member the sound of her sitting back i 
chair, the creak of the wicker, for it wail 
moment when all hope left her. I could Hi 
myself to look in her direction only one ibi 
time. She was staring down at the table.'V 
matted hair franung her bruised face, andsli 
no longer seemed frightened, only sad and^e 
ribly tired. A few minutes later, they tookh< 
away, and she again became what she had l>e 
at first: a silhouette, limping and hobbled, hi 
time receding, passing out into the light of ci^ 

I was in New Delhi, eleven days later, whn 
learned of the assault on the farmhouse, h 
army had come in on gunships at dawn andm 
circled the area, then methodically worji 
their way through to the grove of trees, kill 
everyone they found. The Sri Lankan gov(n 
ment was claiming 23 dead Tigers, inclucti 
Kumarappa, while local residents were clain»i 
nearly 200 dead, mostly civilians; the truth g 
probably somewhere in between. Indian tele i 
sion ran a video of the aftermath and there ^ 
a slow pan of a dozen torn bodies in a row te 
side the ruins of the main hut. I looked for In 
marappa among the corpses but couldn't (H 
him, only a couple of the boys I had talked tc | 

Jon Lee had flown on to Europe for a -j 
union with his wife, and in a week I was to jri 
him in London before we moved on to ( r 
next war zone. I had told him I was going < 
stay in New Delhi for a few days to relax - 
maybe go down to Agra to see the Taj N - 
hal — but what I really wanted was to be aloi .| 
1 didn't know how the incident with Athuiil 
had affected him — we had barely discussed t 
before parting — hut I believed that he was h; 
bothered by it than I was; my brother was ol- 
er, tougher, more experienced at war; he surf 
knew how to handle such things. 

For me, it had brought a sense of shan 
deeper than I had ever thought possible. On ; 
intellectual level, I understood I was not r 
sponsible for what I had felt in the hut — for t 
ther the fear or the relief — but no matter ho 
many times I replayed that afternoon in n 



id, told myself it was irrational, I could not 

rid of the belief that Athuma and I had 

lehow traded places, that I hadn't really 

le all 1 could have to save her because if she 

i lived I would not have. 

if 4y first two days in New Delhi I didn't leave 

hotel room. I ordered food and beer from 

m service and had it left outside the door, 

d the maids there was nothing for them to 

in or straighten. I watched television, smoked 

arettes, paced, stared out the window at the 

)ple passing in the street. I relived being in the 

;er camp and conjured up different scenarios, 

erent endings. I played back the tape of that 

ernoon, listened to all the places where I 

)uld have said something but didn't. Then on 

third day came news of the attack on the 

ntihouse, and I felt better. Now I could distract 

self by envisioning how the Tigers died. 

I knew Kumarappa hadn't eaten his cyanide; 

war, the glory of mar- 

dom is reserved for chil- 

'n and ruhes, those who 

n't know any better. I 

visioned him trying to 

jfjike a break for it, leav- 

ifi^; his boys behind to die, 

Ijaling through the rice 

ddies with his pistol, 

l irhaps getting far enough 

ill '/ay to start believing he 

id made it, that he was 

fe, before being cut down, and I hoped that 

s end had not been quick, that Kumarappa 

^ijcd died for a while. 

I thought of one boy in particular, Shankar, 

sweet-faced twelve-year-old with a beautiful 

lile and a Chinese sniper rifle, a boy so small 

; had sat on the lap of another Tiger when we 

terviewed him. 1 knew Shankar hadn't eaten 

IS cyanide either. I envisioned him panicked 

'. the soldiers closed on the farmhouse, lying 

ounded in the grass when the shooting 

opped. I envisioned him crying for his mother 

J id for mercy as a soldier approached, and 1 

x^oped the soldier had not been swayed, that he 

Aad put his gun to Shankar's head and pulled 

in le trigger. What an awful thing, to hope for 

utow death, for quick murder, but it was these 

opes, this hate, that enabled me to finally 

e :ave the hotel room and rejoin the life 1 had 

|( 'atched from my windt)w. 

It seemed that the world had changed in my 
rief absence; of course, it was I who had. Be- 
inning the day I left the New Delhi hotel and 
ontinuing over the subsequent years, there 
/as about me a new manner, a kind of taut 
entleness. At one time, my pride had not al- 
3wed me to walk away from a fight. After Sri 
-anka, I never showed anger, defused tense sit- 





uations with an almost obsequious politeness. 
At one time, I had enjoyed going into the 
woods with a .22 title and shooting at birds and 
squirrels. Now I didn't want to kill anything, 
and even the feel of a gun in my hand was re- 
pellent. For a long time, I didn't want to go 
back to a war zone. When I finally did, it was 
only to "safe" battlefields — Belfast, Gaza — 
places where I was unlikely to look into the 
face of another Athuma. 

There were other changes as well, a quirky, 
eclectic array. I discovered that I now had to 
live on the top floor of buildings, with large 
windows to view my surroundings. I was not 
comfortable in crowds or dark places. 1 no 
longer dreamed when I slept. I overreacted to 
sharp sounds. I felt nervous when helicopters 
flew overhead. 

I understood that the incident with Athuma 
was not the cause of these changes but rather 
the culmination, the last 
link in all that had come be- 
fore. I had been traveling a 
path ever since Beirut — per- 
haps ever since 1 first heard 
Chiang Kai-Shek's rantings 
in the central square of 
Taipei — and at the old farm- 
house in Sri Lanka the path 
had finally given way be- 
neath me. I understood that 
it had always been orily a 
matter of time before I met an Athuma. 

What did not change was my reticence to 
talk about these things, about Athuma or any- 
thing else that had happened. Instead, I felt a 
keen desire to not do so, to partition off those 
memories as something that had no relevance 
to my new life. For some time, I seldom told 
new acquaintances I had written books, even 
more seldom the subject matter. To old friends 
who were curious about my apparent drift — 
why 1 wasn't working on another book, why I 
had moved to a seedy apartment in Baltimore, 
where I knew no one, or, later, why I spent two 
years doing clerical temp work in Boston — I of- 
fered the blandest of explanations, if any at all. 
Only to those closest to me could I talk about 
the farmhouse — and this only after tour or five 
years had passed, only after I had extracted from 
them a promise of absolute secrecy. What also 
did not change wete the returnings to that day, 
the sudden, always unexpected mi_)ments when 
I found uiyself biick in the hut, Athuma coming 
toward me. 

Ir wa,^ not until a number of years after Sri 
Lanki tliat I realized there was another force 
guiding my cr.anged ;)pj)roach to the world. It 
was an un:^.."ttling force, one ihai 1 had briefly 
gliiTipsed in the New Delhi hotel and imagined 



ro he tt'inporary. AKmy with whatever other 
emotion had taken root — sadness, shame — 
now there was also rajje, a well of directionless 
hate. It 1 had hecome a i^entler person, it was at 
least in part hecaiise 1 was fearful ot the alter- 
nati\'e. 1 didn't t^et an.yry, 1 didn't ti,t;hr, i->ecause 
1 didn't trust what 1 would do. 1 wouldn't get 
near a gun hecause I was afraid 1 might use it. 
And in seeing this, the odd little set ot neu- 
roses I had developed did not seem so eclectic 
after all; guarding against the rage meant heing 
vigilant and quiet, al- 
ways in control, for- 
ever watching the 
horizon tor signs ot 

1 tound safe, tlis- 
crete targets tor my 
anger. C'hiet among 
them were those who 
advocated war or pro- 
fessed to understand 
it. In Londini, I watched lettist students, in 
sandals and patchouli, demonstrate in support 
ot the Tamil Tigers. In the huildup to Opera- 
tion Desert Storm, 1 watched Young Repuhli- 
cans at the University of Iowa conduct a mock 
trial and execution of Saddam Hussein, lis- 
tened to them cheer and whoop when "Hus- 
sein" was made to kneel on the stage to he 
"shot" in the head. 1 listened to pundits and 
academics opine ahout why a war was or wasn't 
a religicuis contlict, an economic or constitu- 
tional one. 1 did not need to confront leftists, 
rightists, college professors, or yahoos holding 
forth in a har; it was enough to loathe them in 
silence, and 1 nurtured this loathing as if it 
were something precious. 

Xt was in the autumn ot 1994, nearly eight 
years atter Sri Lanka, that my hrother 
and 1 talked ahout Athuma tor the tirst 
time. We were sitting on the porch oi our sis- 
ter's home in ConnecticLit late at night. A 
week earlier, our mother, who lived in Spaiii, 
had arrived to visit me and my sister — the only 
two of her tive children who lived in the conti- 
nental United States. She had tallen ill sud- 
denly, too suddenly tor my hrother, Ining in 
Latin America, or my two other sisters in 
Hawaii to reach Connecticut hetore she died. 
Now, the day atter our mt)ther's death, Jon Lee 
wanted to he told everything that had hap- 
pened, the precise chronology ot events in her 
rapid decline. Her passing had heen a paintul 
one, ditticult to witiiess, hut tor several hours 
on our sister's porch I calmly, numhly, told Jon 
Lee all he wai^ited to know. 

"I don't know why we couldn't sa\'e her," I 
kept saying. "It happened so fast, hut 1 don't 

know why we couldn't save her." 

Atter a time, though, my numhness woijot 
replaced with the naked grief that tends ti^eh 
and flow t)n such occasions, and amid th tii 
sorrow expanded to encompass the (|ht 
woman we hadn't heen ahle to save, AthunI, 

"Did we really do everything we could ,D 
we really.^" ,, 

"Yes, we did," Jon Lee insisted. "Wudi 
everything w'e could, and it wasn't enougWfiC 
tried, and we couldn't try anymore." He'^i 
the right words, hut in his eyes I saw thatio 
Lee didn't helieve them either, that he ha|n 
mained haunted over the years as well. 

And despite what is said, it is not always bs 
ier to grieve together. Sometimes it is easi : i 
imagine yourself alone, to helieve that othtlh 
stronger, tougher than yeiurself — have figuid 
way out and laid a trail that you might foUw 
Seeing the sorrows of my hrother — the 
one tor our mother, the old one for Athur 
was not an easy thing. Along with tendern 
also telt an anxious despondency: no one 
strong or tough enough to emerge unscatft 
there was no trail out. 

A tew months later, 1 decided I would i\ 'r 
to Sri Lanka. 1 got the idea from watching tie 
vision programs ahiiut American veterans n 
were returning to their old hattlefields, to i:c 
nawa, to Vietnam. I watched these pn)^ri:n 
clo.sely, studied the faces of the veterans — i, je 
cially those who, earlier in the prograin-i 
their pre-journey interviews, had let i 
masks slip, had lost their composure in a 
ment of had rememhrance — hecause I wa 
to see whether they finally found some mea 
of reconciliation, of peace, in the happy ] 
fulness of the children in villages they 
once fought over. The results seemed mixe 
hest, hut the journeys also appeared to he 
only thing these old soldiers could do, and 
cided to copy them: I would go to Sri La 
and find Athuma's children, those who vMt 
still alive. 1 would tell them what had hft- 
pened, how I had tried. I would apologize. 

Instead, someone called to ask if I would., 
to Chechnya, to follow the trail of a midc^lf- 
aged American man and his three companius 
who had disappeared there, and a different u- 
age came to mind: this man and his comp;i- 
ions somewhere in the Caucasus mountai,!, 
captive, despairing, hut alive, waiting tor de;'b 
or someone to save them. 

And so, perhaps having not truly learnd 
anything yet, I went to Chechnya. 

When a person helieves he is ahtt 
to die at the hands of another, *; 
does not look at all the way ol; 
might expect. He does not scream or ci. 


er, he becomes very quiet and lethargic, 
his eyes fill with a kind of shattered sad- 

as if all he wants to do is sleep. It is only 
this with a certain kind of dying, 1 imag- 
the kind where you have been given tune 
e what is coming, where you have tried to 
[■tiate and reason and have failed. 
. the front room of the farmhouse in the 
,ge, I see signs of this exhaustion in all my 
panions: Alex hunched forward on the 
;h, gazing miserably at the hare concrete 
■; Asian leaning against the wall, his arms 
iped about his middle, staring down at his 
;s; Stanley's eyes fixed on the far white 
, distant and puzzled; even Ryan seems 
itened, his habitual grin gone, his eyelids 
/y. I am reminded of looking into the face 

'S^'ithuma that last time. 


^ wort 

the edge of the hroken-diiwn couch and leaned 
onto his knees, and in the long silence that en- 
sued he seemed lost in thought, methodically 
massaging his fingers, staring down at the floor. 
At last, he sighed and looked up at me. 

"You are not supposed to be here. No one is 
allowed here. How do 1 know you're not spies?" 

The note from the liaison was gone. 1 had 
given it to one of the rebels who first stopped 
us, the one who seemed most senior, and he 
now made a great show of looking for it, rum- 
magiiig through the various pockets of his fa- 
tigues and turning up nothing. 

"1 must have given it back to you," he said to 
me. "You must have it." 

He was lying, but I didn't know to what end. 
Was he protecting us or doing the opposite? It 
was impossible to know, and there was no time 

A li»i)5 

We had been stopped as soon as we reached 

; outskirts of the village, hustled out of the 
"libulance and led into the stone farmhouse 
at was the rebel's command post. They were 
irtled to see us — the village was closed to 
'ilians, the track in "restricted" — but at first 
' were treated more with curiosity than with 
spicion; we drank tea and shared cigarettes, 
e rebels talked animatedly about the war and 
"ly they were fighting. It was when the com- 
ander arrived that everything changed. 
He was in his forties, wearing a black leather 
;ket and strange, ankle-high boots. He .shook 
ch of our hands without smiling, then sat on 

to ponder or watch for clues. 

In the absence of the note, the commander 
began his slow, calm interrogation of us. He 
asked why we had come, who had sent us, and 
studied oLir iilentity papers as if they were 
weighty evidence. To his questions we gave the 
most innocent of answers — that Alex had 
come to deliver relief supplies, that I had come 
to chronicle the mission — but nothing swayed 
the ci-mmander. histead, it seemed that every- 
thing we said, every insistence of OLir simple in- 
tent!' n>.s, served only to convict us more, lead 
US [h-M much closer to a bad end. Everyone in 
rhe room knew what was happening — the 


rilu'ls wlui ;i sill ill lime hclciir liiiil j^ivi'li lis Iim 
;iiul tit;;iH'lU's ikiw lonkcil ;i\v;iy, rfliiscJ In 
iiKikc L'yi- I tiiiliii I ; Hill II UMs 1 1 If mirmiiiiiihlf 
slowness <)( Mill ilcsci-ni, diii (^iiiuhiii^ iiKihiliiy 
Id liiul ;in ;illy m llir words lh;il lilli^lil s;ivi- us, 
ill, II lin.illy Ifil us into a triishin)4 apalliy, lo 
rliis |)laic wliLTc our stron^jisi nniaiiun^ liesiii' 
is siiii|)ly lor I he prot ess lo riul, 

Aiul iIkii I liml iIk- vvoiils ilial i ill llirou^li. 
C )i' 1 1 lay hi- II IS nol woiils a I all hut llir way I look 
unlilinkin^j;ly, (^uillli'ssly, inl<i llu- i oiniiiaiulri's 
cyc-s. Or inayln- it isii'i any ol ihis hut only a 
caprit ious shili iii ihc cxfculioiK-r's lu'arl suJ- 
Jc-nly wc fiiul llu- inirno);:i' ic jii is ovia aiul w^■ 
arc Iri'c. Slill JazcJ hy ihc s|H-rJ aiul iiiysiciy ol 
our LJc'livfrancc, wc- an- liJ lo ilu amhnlaiu c, 
aiul llu- ri'lu-ls (,'ailu'r arouikl lo shake our haiuls, 
lo slap us on ihc hack, lo wish us a safe journey, 
as if wc arc t lose Iriciuls ilu-y arc sail lo sec leave-. 

While- iliiviii)! hat k lhroii)^h llu- iiioiinlains, I 
reiiu-iiilH-i ihc man I hail ).;oiu- to llu- villaj^e- lo 
liiiil. I iii-vcr aski-il llu- n-hcls ahoiii hiiii, aiul lor 
ihc Ilia lime I Mi'-i'^P ihe- lolossal sialc ol my 
luihris. Whal haJ I cxpet led.' I hal I woiilil 
slumhlc upon llu- American aiul his toinpan 
ions slaiulin^^ al llu- loailsiilc' I ha I I i oiiKI )_;o h i 
the villa)^(-, mill llu- nun who had almosl n-i- 
rainly niiiidi-n-d ilu- losi )4ioii|i, and have llu-m 
confidi- in iiu-.' Whal had I ht-cn ihinkinj^.' 

I )uiin|_; llu- slow i|iiii-l drive- away from ihc 
\'illa|',c, I am iciimuk-il ai^ain ol whal il is ahoiil 
wai ihal has aluays loiiiicnii-d mc, ihal I have 
iu-\e-r hecn ahle lo ictoiuilt-. Allhoiii^h il has 
heen |irovcd in Imni ol my i-yi-s a dozt-n liim-s, 
I have nevi-r I inly aitc|ili'il ihal whal si-parali-s 
llu- liviii); liiiiii ihc dead IS I,iii4t-|y a mallei i il 
( oiiu idi-lu c, III );i)iid link or had, ihal in war 
mill and women and ihildnn die simply he- 
cause- llu-y ilo, and ihal llu-ie is no plan i n le-a 
son lo any ol ii. Il a lailh has j^uide'd mc, il has 
heen line ol aiioj^aiui-, llu- helu-l ihal I ha\'e- 
|H>wci, I I ill! save-, ihal vi)_;ilaiui- will se-e- 
inc I hii Hij^h. 

Alhiima was ele-ad hcloie- I saw- lu-r, she was 
dead siiiiii)^ across liom mc, .iiid slu- was dead 
wlu-n I Icll, I hell- \\as iiiiihin^ I enuld have- 
done- 111 make- il linn mil dilliicnlly. I he-re was 
liolhiliC I I mild h.ivc doiu- lo save- llu- Aliie-ll 
e.iii man in llu- \ill.ii;i-, and ihcic vvas nolhiiif^ I 
eiiiild have diHic In s;i\'c myscll m my eompan- 
liiiis nil nolc, nil lalismaiis, lu i wnids, Uiil ihls 
impi ill-Ill I- Is almosl li n > mm h li > I h-.ii . 1 1 is lasi 
I'l smiii how In ciidiiic ihc sell imliiics i il raj^e, 
ol sh.iiiii , 1)1 hi ipc ih.ii iniiic wiih llu- helici 
I I licit- is a lei II, dial \M- e an sh.ipe- il. 

I'e-ih.ips ihis IS he-eaiisi- ol ihe i;n-ale-l powe-r- 
le-ssiuss ihal lie's heyoiul, llu- inahilily lo e-\'e-i 
f^o haik. Keluiniii)^ lo Sii I aiika .ind se-e-inj^ 
Alhiima's ihildicn would nol h.ivc i haiif^ctl 
an\'lhini',, l-indini; llu- Aiiu-iii.iii iii.iii in llu- 

villat^e- uoiild nol have- e anccleel oul Alhuina 
llu' larmhouse. II the t^oal is (o reconcile 
"(4el o\cr" what lias happened, the .sclf-tortl 
will never ciiel; ^.inice ean eoiiu- only in know! 
that ihc wounds neve-r heal, ihal ihey have I 
tume a pail ol ymi and are- lo he carried. Tl 
you e an'i .ih nu, 1 liai \i m must si o]i trying. 

Ahoul an hour allcr leaving ihc villaj 
while skirl in>4 a hillside, wc come L 
on a loyora LantI Ouiser stuck in t 
miiel up to the- lloorhoarels, its three occupat 
siiiiim de-jee Icdiy in the j^rass. It is the only ot 
cl \ehiiK- we- have- see-n all day, anel, follow! 
llu- eiii|iu-iu- ol the- mouiilains, Asian slojis t 
amhiilaiue- and starts lo tasliion a lowline- In 
a eoil ol rope. The rest of us step out to stret 
our \r\j,s. By e oincielence, we have stopp 
aho\e- the- same small j^laelc where Alex points 
out the- unusual sprawl ol sione-s rhal mornir 
aiul lor scvi-ral minuu-s, ihe- Imir ol us star 
silently on the- e-d)^c ol llu- hliill, stariiij^ dow 
llu- hillside- at the-m. 

I loiik lo die- lar siele- ol the road and noiit 
thai v\'c .III- dire-clly hclow the crest ol a 11; 
lopped iiiiMinlain, a mesa. Most ol the- slope 
dm, hill ai the- e re-si is a unilorm, six-foot sea 
111 loek, and I se-e- ihal the si|iiare houldefS 
llu- pastille he-low ale- not old ruins hut simp 
sei lions ol llu- i-se.iipmcni ihal have fa 
away. I iiiin to point ihis out lo my compai 
ions, hill It IS Inn l.iu-; Ale-N has hcj^uii runnir 
toward llu- roe ks. I wale h him f^o -an awkwai 
t^iilish mil, his scarl snajipin^ in ihc hreeze- 
and I am se-i:e'el with a dre-ad thai, at first, 
laniioi iik-niily, I e lamhe-r ilown into the mu( 
lo when- Asian is hiisy with the- lowline. 

"Is ihis area liiiiu-d.'" 

Asian looks up and seems to sniff tlic air, < 
il I've- aske-d him il il mij^hl rain. I K- shrubs. 

I I limh hai k to ihe edf^c of the hluff aiul se 
thai AK-\ icii hid his de-st illation, lie 
siaiulin>^ aioji one- ol llu- iimne-nse stones, h 
h.inds on his hips, .md although he surel 
knows now ihal his ;ini lent ruins are- only lall 
en houlde-is, he sce-iiis i|iiiu- please-d with hiiiit 
sell, a pre-e-nin>4 e-xploni , 

I shniii down In .Ale-x, iill him In he carefu 
thai I lieu- mii;lii lu- miius. |-'ven ae ross th' 
loll)..; e-xpansi- ol piisiuu-, I e;in se-e- the- le-nsioi 
I nine iiiln Ins hndy, and I kiinw the weif^h 
ihal has dinppcd iiiin his ehe-si, the rin)4in| 
e-m|i|liu-ss llrii has icfdaeed Ills ihouj^hls. 
wale h him );iii);e-|ly pu k his way hae k up th 
hill, Ins shnilldels slnnpcd like all nlil man. I Ir 
lo reliie-mhci I he- way lu- was |iisl mniiie-nl 
aj^o happily innniiii; lliioui_;h llu- meadov 
f^rass, e-xnllanl upon Ins imk and I am he-le 
hy the- saelne-ss nl hnw lu- has;eel, ol how 
We- all I haiii.;e- oul here'. 

. I 1 1 \i;n irs \\v i\/in\ i |,-\ni laky I'wy 



Kwanzaa bestows the gifts of therapy 
By Gerald Early 


.or the past five or six years, in my 
position as head of the African- American studies program at the universi- 
ty where I teach, I've been invited by the black students on campus to 
take part in their annual celebration of Kwanzaa, the African- American 
holiday that is gaining in popularity each year. The festivities, which are 
usually celebrated during the seven days between December 26 and Janu- 
ary 1, are compressed, for the students' purposes, into one evening. The 
ceremony takes place in one of the campus's cafeterias. All the trappings 
of a somber religious occasion are there: candles, a mat, a ritual cup, re- 
marks to the gathered celebrants. 

Because Kwanzaa is designed to connect African Americans to their 
African heritage, the colors and symbols of that continent predominate. 
Kente cloth is ubiquitous, as are the red, black, and green of Marcus Gar- 
vey's Pan-African flag. Gifts of nuts, fruits, and vegetables, which are 
meant to recall African harvest festivals, are placed on the mat. Corn, a 
symbol of children, is also offered, to remind us that we are responsible to 
the youngest of the community. 

The gathering can take on the solemnity of a church service. A Unity 
Cup — passed around among the celebrants — serves as a kind of Eucharist 
of Africanity. Much ado is made of the family, particularly the elders. A 
roll call of black heroes is intoned. Naturally, as at any serious black gath- 
ering, we sing the black national anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," 
which is just as unsingable as the "white" national anthem, "The Star- 
Spangled Banner." Yet it often feels good to sing it in a roomful of blacks, 
as if it were a spiritual of how we have endured in a strange land. 

Gerald Early is the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters at Washington University in 
St. Louis end the director of the school's African and Afro-American Studies Program. 


The principles behind 

kwanzaa are less ideas than 

slogans, and that is their 

virtue: they are simplistic, 

banal, and vague 


The celebrants then go on xo offer meditations on the meaning of d 
holiday, but I slip out just as soon as I can. I'm a middle-aged man, am 
don't like hanging around with groups of twenty-year-olds any long 
than I have to. It's more than just the socializing, though. I always feel 
little imeasy at Kwanzaa gatherings. The holiday, with its tenuous histon 
its mimicry of so-called ancient festivals, its celebration of vague "sacre( 
principles, is one that has never moved me. There is something so co; 
trived, so invented about it, so pointed in its moral purpose, that 
can't help wishing for a holiday with a bit more universa 

Kty — something like Christmas, the holiday Kwanzaa i 
tends to preempt, 
wanzaa, which is celebrated, according to its boosters, by an es< 
mated 18 million African Americans, was indeed invented, and not so ve| 
long ago. Although it purports to evoke early African culture, Kwanzaa is 
child not of Stone Age Africa but of the American civil-rights and Bla 
Power movements of the 1960s. The holiday's inventor, Maulana Karen§ 
is now a professor of black studies at California State University at Loi 
Beach. In 1965, as Ron Karenga, he was the leader of a Los Angeles-bast 
black organization called US. After earning degrees in political sciem 
firom UCLA, Karenga got involved in local civil-rights battles, and becar 
a prime mover and shaker in the rebuilding of Watts after the riots there. 
In the Sixties, Karenga developed a black value system that he call 
Kawaida— a Swahili word meaning "tradition" or "reason" — offering ; 
"African" cultural alternative to what he felt was imperialist Eurocei 
trism. The doctrinal bedrock of Kawaida was the seven principles th 
Karenga created, which he termed the Nguzo Saba. According to Kare 
ga, these were the core principles "by which Black people must live in c 
der to begin to rescue and reconstruct our history and lives." They are: 

1. Umoja (Unity) 

2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) 

3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) 

4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) 

5. Nia (Purpose) 

6. Kuumba (Creativity) 

7. Imani (Faith) 
Kawaida turned out to be little more than these seven principles 

would certainly be a fanciful turn of mind to call it a philosophical systei 
or a fully developed theology. It is systematic only because it is numbere 
resembling, in this way, both the Ten Commandments and the bylaws f 
a fraternal organization, with a vague hint of some form of numerology. 

The principles that became the foundation of Kwanzaa are also, as bef 
an American creation, a pastiche: there's a good deal of the African poli 
cal philosopher Julius Nyerere, some of former Senegalese preside 
Leopold S«"nghor's "Negritude," a bit of Mao, a dash of Marx, a serving 
Garveyite Pan-Africanism, and a pinch of nature religion. 

Had the seven principles remained tied only to Kawaida, they probat 
would have been forgotten. But as the set of beliefs governing Kwanzaa- 
each of the seven days is tied to one of the principles — they may surviv 
For what they lack as a serious philosophical system is precisely what giv 
them populist appeal. They are less ideas than a set of slogans, and that 
their virtue: they are simplistic, banal, and vague. ("Every day of the ye 
we must apply and practice the Nguzo Saba sincerely and faithfully to hi 
vest success," The Complete Kwanzaa. by Dorothy Winbush Riley, advisi 
"If you wanted to sing like Whitney Houston, would you think of yo 
music only once a week? ... If you wanted to be a champion athlete li 
Michael Jordan, would you abuse your body, neglect your meals, and sk 
routine practice.'") They combine the beatitude of willpower, an 
American preoccupation, with the righteousness of racial uplift, an c 
African- American preoccupation. 




Illustrations hy Tcrrance Cummil 

iRacial piety also permeates the Kwanzaa principles. Such simple max- 
s are the sort of earnest ideals that are difficult to oppose or argue with. 
) one questions whether they really have any connection to the com- 
;xity of modern African-American lite. The genius of Kwanzaa — the 
ison it has taken on the air of a mass movement — is that these rather 
innocuous principles are joined with an historical com- 
plaint, one that blacks have long harbored, against the cul- 
tural celebration of Christmas. 


requently enough in my boyhood during the 1950s and '60s, some 
ick person, during the holiday season, would complain about the white- 
ss of Christmas, that Christmas, if not an inherently racist idea, had he- 
me an added oppressive weight in the lives of African Americans. Irving 
rlin's "White Christmas" was regarded in some quarters with a kind of 
;asured irony; here was a song not about weather but about culture. Peo- 
; would say, "That line 'And may all your Christmases be white' is the 
lite man's hope for the future." 

It was customary to hear the opinion, usually voiced only at Christmas, 
tat black parents should not buy white dolls for their daughters. And in 
; barbershops and on the street comers I heard lectures about the eco- 
mic and political insanity of supporting white businesses during the hol- 
iy, how unsavory it was to give our money to white merchants who do 
thing for our communities. If we were going to buy things we did not 
ed at Christmas, so the argument went, wasting our money in a wild or- 

of consumerism, then we ought to at least buy black; that is, buy prod- 
ts made by black-owned companies at stores run by black merchants. 
But the black complaint that as a boy I heard, writ large, about Christ- 
as mixed several elements together indiscriminately. Not everyone 
lade the same charge against the holiday; no single unified view of what 
"iristmas meant or failed to mean to black folk presented itself. Was 
iristmas bad because of the white images, because of the consumerism, 
cause of the scarcity of black businesses? It was not clear. 
For the most insistently race-conscious, there was the political dilem- 
i, wrapped in spiritual guise, of praying to a white baby Jesus with a 
nte Joseph and Mary looking on. The creche at my all-black church 
d a blond baby Jesus. This did ntn seem odd to me or, I'm sure, to most 
ambers in my congregation until after 1964, when Black Power and 
ick nationalism became strong movements within the black communi- 

It was then that I first heard talk of celebrating a black Christmas. 
For those who bought into the most race-conscious cultural critique, 
€ celebration of Christmas was not unlike the kind of political conspira- 

that Frederick Douglass described as the slave's Christmas on the 
uthern plantation in his 1845 Narrative: 

The days between Christmas and New Year's day are allowed as holidays; 
and, accordingly, we were not required to perform any labor, more than to feed 
and take care of the stock. ... A slave who would work during the holidays was 
considered by our masters as scarcely deserving them. He was regarded as one 
I who rejected the favor of his master. It was deemed a disgrace not to get drunk 
at Christmas; and he was regarded as lazy indeed, who had not provided himself 
with the necessary means, during the year, to get whisky enough to last him 
through Christmas. 

From what I know of the effect of these holidays upon the slave, i believe 
'' them to be among the most effective means in the hands of the slaveholder in 
* keeping down the spirit of insurrection. 

It is,, immediately noticeable that Kwanzaa is celebrated virtual- 
4 over the same course of time as the original slave holiday of Christmas, 
lis suggests that Karenga sought tci rehabilitate the Christmas festival with 
mid re-creation of something African or allegedly African, some kind of 
generative response to the way the holiday had been used to debase the de- 







SPEc:iFicALLY amerr:an need 

iaciiiat(.\l, ciilliii,illy deprived Aiiicaii slave. Kaicnj^a goes tnit of his way| 
say that Kwan:aa is "not a Black C^hristnias." But even in emphasizing its i 
positii>n to C^hristmas, he confirms that the two are linked. In his pri 
Kuunzcur. Orif^ns, Conccpt.s, Practice, Karenga explains how he designed tjk) 
holiday to "give a Black alternative to the existing holiday and give Blaefti 
an opportunity to celebrate themselves." j i 

Indeed, Kwanzaa's success depends on exacerbating, consciously or i 
consciously, black people's sense of alienation from Christmas. With 
fat white man who delivers toys and gifts to childreii, Christmas sim| 
confirms many African Americans' perception that everything iii Am 
can society reinforces the idea of white supremacy. In this respect, Kwaji, 
zaa becomes, as the Afrocentrist writer Haki Madhubuti asserts, an "Afi 
American celebration [that] is truly progressive and revt)lutionary." 

Kwanzaa's partisans may stress that their holiday is not religio 
(though for some the holiday answers the kinds of cjuesticms about ori, 
and destiny that are normally the dt)main of religion) and that its practi 
does not interfere with any religious tradition: black people, they say, c 
celebrate C^hristmas too. Yet these partisans know that Kwanzaa's powei 
in its cultural statement, its refutatioii of the whiteness of Christmas, 
this regard, Kwanzaa is a specific response to Christm 
"^^ "^^ T a specific critique of it, and, I would argue, the mc 

^^ ^^ / powerful such critique we have. 

T Titb its replicatioii of a harvest holiday or festival, Kwanzaa pr 
vides African Americans with a kind of elegiac pastoralism, a sense of a 
cient Africa as a paradise lost, a romanticism of agrarian life that only i 
ban people who have never farmed for a living could hold with a straig 
face. But as Kwanzaa works to regenerate a romanticized Africa for t 
black American, it serves a specifically American need. This need is reh 
ed to a particular psychological state of the American black as an Afric; 
manque and an American manque. 

That the identity of African Americans is marked by such alienatic 
should ctmie as a surprise to no one. Again, Frederick Douglass articulat( 
this alienation as famously as any black when he delivered his famcius Ju 
5, 1852, speech entitled "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" 
which he stated: 




1 am iiDi iiu luJctl wiilim ilic \x\\v ol this (^lurloiis anniversary! Y<.)ur high ind 
pcndcnci' iinly ivw.iU the iiiinicasiuaMe ilislancr Ix-tvveen us. The blessings 
wliicli yiiu, till,'. Jay, rc|()icc, arc mil i.'n|oycJ in cdnimiin. The rich inheritan 
of justice, liiu-rry, prosperity, and independence, lu-queathed by your fathers, 
shared by you, not hy me. The suniif,'ht riiat brouf,'hr life and healing to you, h 
brouyiit stripes and diMlii to me. Tins Foarlh ol July is yours, not mine. 

What I\nigla,ss was rejecting was what could be called the Ameria 
ci\'ic religion, a set of traditions and myths tnanufactured by white Amer 
ca to elevate its own culture anel history. This religion — inculcated 
public-school ci\ics classes, Llitiie-store nm-els, government proclam; 
tiotis, tele\ised holiday spectacles, ain.1 every conceivable cultural ou 
let — had its own vaunted values (freedom, individual responsibilif 
"pulling yourself up by your bootstraps"), its myths (George Washington 
cherry tree, Horatio Alger, Manifest Hestiiiy), its bytnns, and, of courS' 
its holidays (Metnorial Day, Thaiiksgiving, the Fourth of July). 

For tiiore tbaii a century, African Americans have responded to th 
civic religiiiii, which lor the tnost part exclu(.les them, by attempting to crt 
ate a ci\ic religion of their own. The process began with the various "June 
teenth" celebrations markiiig the i.ssuance of the Emancipation Proclam; 
tion or the passage of the Thirteenth Amendtnent, the black persoii 
equivalent of the Fourth of July. As a black borti atnl raised m the North, 
not only ne\er celebrated Juneteentb Pay, I IkkI tie\'er hearil of it utitil c 
was informed iti barbershops by black soLitherii itiimigraiits, sotne of vvlu)r 

SH ll,'\Rf'liR'SM.-\i;A/INl-:/J.\Nt!AKY l'i"7 


10! ■ 

ill continued to celebrate it in the North. These black freedom festivals 
ere celebrated haphazardly in the South on various dates from May to 
sptember, largely depending on when the state's slaves heard the news 
(It tiat they were free. (Blacks in Texas reportedly heard the news on June 
?, 1865; many still celebrate Juneteenth on that day.) 
' The first concerted effort by blacks to create a unified civic occasion on 
le calendar was the launching of Negro History Week by black historian 
r!arter G. Woodson in 1926. By 1976 the Association for the Study of 
ifegro Life and History, Woodson's creation, declared a Black History 
ffii ilonth, in February, which is now a permanent cultural fixture. In 1986, 
« longress made Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, January 15, a national 
^ oliday, largely through the agitation of black Americans. With the wide- 
)read celebration of Kwanzaa, it can be said that from the end of Decem- 
er to the end of February, blacks — their cultural and political concerns, 
leir history, the significance of their presence in the American land- 
;ape — dominate the American civic calendar. No other American eth- 
|:ic group draws or compels such sustained attention, which alone is a 
running achievement, though a mixed blessing. 
What blacks are trying to do is forge a usable black past, an entirely 
iasonable and worthy goal. But the creation of this past has in recent 
ears become an all-consuming preoccupation. Blacks are seeking to Cre- 
te an entire set of institutions and celebratory occasions that will rival, 
.ad parallel, white (or American) civic piety. This parallelism is an ex- 
ression of both pride and psychological insecurity, of strength and guilt, 
f ego and resentment. The marginalized demonstrate their power by in- 
denting institutions and occasions that celebrate their marginality as 
■lorally superior, a form of nobility. These inventions express a paradox: 
ae desire to assimilate and the desire never to be assimilated. 
Nothing brings together the elements of black civic piety better than 
wanzaa. Nothing better reveals the extraordinary ability of the marginal- 
!;ed both to liberate and entrap themselves at the same time. For in creat- 
: ig a cultural orthodoxy designed to combat racism, urban disorder, and a 
igacy of oppression, we subject ourselves to delusional dogma, the tyran- 
y of conformity, and language that rings of fascist imagery. Talk of "soil," 
ancestors," and "blood" does not retrieve our history but makes it impos- 
ible for us to truly discover it. 

Kwanzaa is, in short, a holiday of compensation. Much of what blacks 
•0 to strengthen their ethnic identity is compensatory, which is why so 
luch of what black people do "in their blackness" seems a form of thera- 
y. Kwanzaa is therapy, too — a therapy that is related to being American 
ir, rather, to being denied what blacks feel is their true status as Ameri- 
ans. Karenga, in his primer, insistently explained Kwanzaa's African- 
Vmerican origins: "The first myth is that Kwanzaa is a continental 
1' Kfrican holiday rather than an Afro- American one. But the fact is that 
1 1 here is nowhere on the African continent a holiday named Kwanzaa. . . . 
I'T-wanzaa is an Afro- American holiday which by its very definition re- 
lects the dual character of the identity and experience of the Afro- 
American people." 

In Kwanzaa, African Americans seek nothing less than redemption 
rem their status as second-class Americans and incomplete Africans. It is 
he culmination of a century-long project to create a civic religion that 
I'ill be able to contain their American and African selves. But the danger 
I'ith this sort of therapy is that it trivializes the profundity of the very her- 
tage it is attempting to make sacred. With Kwanzaa, the African Ameri- 
can reduces the complexity of his ancestry to the salve of 
Ecure. All that we get, from millennia of history and pro- 
found cultural experience, is to feel good about ourselves, 
very holiday season, a man by the name of Charles "Babatu" 
4urphy who works in the African-American studies program at my 

Kwanzaa is a holiday 
of therapy— therapy 
for blacks who feel denied 
their true status 
as americans 

FC;9AY =,Q 






sclnml, gets swept up by Kwan:aa. He covers the diKir to liis office 
Kwanzaa signs. He talks to students about the holiday both at the univ 
sity and in public schools in the area. In a word, he believes in it; he 
licves in its ideological necessity and social good, believes in it, indeed 
something better than religion, because, at least at this moment, it has 
priests and no church. I find the sincerity of his beliot both endearing M 
admirable (even though I make it a po\u\ that the program ignore 
holiday, as it does all others). 

Murphy is proui.1 that the tirst Kwanzaa celebration held in St. Lo 
was held in his ln)use. To him, "the main reason Kwanzaa caught on i 
tially was because it was correct, and it tit the people." But he now fit 
himself worrying about the commercialization of the holiday. 

"Kwanzaa is being co-opted," he says, "just like Christmas." 

1 le's .speaking of the seemingly infinite outlets in the marketplace n 
tor all things Kwanzaa. There are cookbooks, children's stories, how 
manuals, factory-made mats, mass-produced Unity Cups, Taiwanese-me 
candleholders. Hallmark greeting cards, compact discs. 

To many ftilKuvers of the holiday, this commercial glut is particula 
galling, since founder Karenga has always insisted that Kwanzaa be a n( 
commercial celebration. Gift giving is still a critical part of the celeb 
tion — on the se\'enth day children receive gifts that are supposed to ill 
trate the seven principles — but Karenga emphasizes that these gifts, 
well as all decorations for the holiday, are to be homemade. When 
spoke in St. Louis last Kwanzaa, he went to great lengths to warn his au 
ence of the creeping danger of commercializing the holiday. In his prim 
he explained that he designed the holiday, in part, to help black peo{ 
save money: "1 established the days for Kwanzaa as 26 December-1 Jan 
ary. It is on 26 l\>cember that after-C^hristmas sales begin, and thus it 
economically sound to shop after the C'hristmas season rather than duri 
the season." 

In any case, Kwanzaa's commercialism is a sign not necessarily of t 
corruption of the luiliday but of the increasing economic power of blacl 
The fact is, there are far more black professional and middle-class peof 
in the United States — that is, more black people with decent incom 
and some clout — than ever before. The income of black Americans, p; 
ricularly black Americans, has risen faster than that of whit 
(though it is still less than whites). 

To be able to purchase such paraphernalia is an important sign of stat 
tor the black middle class. Indeed, such people would hardly be interest 
in the holiday it it remained a primitive practice, because it would lai 
the self-evident status of upward mobility they crave. And both the bla( 
middle class and the black working class are generally pleased to S( 
Kwanzaa displays in bookstores and department stores, since these iter 
are a sign that black tastes are being catered to, that blacks are being ta 
en seriously as a market, that they have an economic presence that whit 
cannot afford to ignore. The old preoccupation with racial loyalty rears i 
head. But the tact that whites sell the stuff, recognize its moneymaki 
potential, should help black businesses in the long run by granting t\ 
hiiliday a place in the mainstream. 

It seems clear to me that what most blacks wish, iii seeing the holidi 

gain popularity, is not that Kwanzaa would be less commercial but thi 

only blacks would control and benefit from it. But no market is reserve 

tor an ethnicity by \ntue of some moral view on the part of that ethnic 

ty, some kind of invisible cultural tariff. Nothing will cor 

F^ sign Kwanzaa to a deserved death of provincial irrelevant 

^ quicker than that, 

irt ot my personal resistance to Kwanzaa lies in the fact that 1 am 
Christian, and that 1 have always been deeply grateful to Jesus that H| 
was able to reduce life to one principle, which makes it six principl 




60 I lAKPI-R'S M.M;A/INH / lANl lARY 1W7 

Is -■ 

:hter than carting around Kwanzaa. Moreover, there are aspects of 

ivanzaa, the way in which its founders felt the hohday could serve 

eds, that somehow signify the defeat of black people. Kwanzaa, like 

Tocentrism, is about black decline, the notion that our greatness lies in 

misty past of purity, before the coming of the white man. The story of 

k black American, however, is one not only of indignities but of many 

credible triumphs in the face of those indignities, triumphs that Kwan- 

i, with its paltry, contrived symbols, seems scarcely capable of captur- 

g. Give me a good blues record by Bessie Smith or Muddy Waters, or 

|;ike Ellington and the boys doing "East St. Louis Toodle-oo," a bottle 

beer, and a checkerboard with one of my kids as an adversary, and 

ere's more meaning there than in all the Kwanzaas from here to eterni- 

Give me no more of this rescue mission for blackness. Spare me the 

icuers and their ideology. 

I say this, and yet 1 know things are not quite so simple. Last year, 1 was 
lajjivited to another Kwanzaa celebration. At some point after the (diffi- 
It) round of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," 1 sat at one of the tables with 
graduate student of mine, waiting for an appropriate moment to leave, 
le crowd was relatively large and slightly mixed: these are never exclu- 
'ely black events; a few white students always show up. This is good to 
;, and it is good to know that both black ana white students strive, even 
amsily, for a certain kind of outreach. 

\At one point I spotted a woman who reminded me of my oldest sister. 
iv nickname came to me, Kissy, and 1 had not thought of that name in a 
ag time. I began to think of a Christmas long ago when I was a boy. It 
IS a year when my mother gave my oldest sister a Monopoly game. She 
jght both me and my other sister, very patiently, how to play, and 1 re- 
ember a rainy December 26 when we sat, the three of us, beside the 
riristmas tree, playing Monopoly and eating oranges and Brazil nuts. My 
iest sister even let me win a game. She thought I didn't know and 1 
ver let on, but I knew she let me win. 

My sisters both had their white dolls sitting next to them, helping them 
jy the game. And they looked, for all the world, like the most beautiful 
ings God ever made, my sisters and their white dolls. My mother took 
:tures with color film. I remember it was the only time of year that my 
3ther used color film, because it was so expensive to develop. We were 
)t a family given to taking pictures. We had just gotten our phone a 
tek before, and my mother talked with all our relatives. I was thrilled to 
e bone every time it rang. 

That night we sat up late, with the Monopoly board still on the floor, 
id watched What's M^ Line? on TV and ate ice cream and cake under a 
gged quilt made by our great-aunt. It was one of the happiest times of 
y life. 

I thought, at that moment, sitting at that Kwanzaa celebration, how I 
id not seen my oldest sister in a very long time and how 1 wished at that 
ry moment that I could see her and tell her how much 1 liked that time, 

I )W good it was, how good Christmas was that year, because Christmases 
e not always good. But my oldest sister does not like to reminisce, or at 
ast she never does with me. How I wish I could have seen her then to 

II her that 1 was thinking of her. 1 had that feeling of not quite being in 
mtrol of myself, as if I might cry, and I simply had to get out of there. 

So 1 left the cafeteria, bidding adieu to my graduate student. But I 
ought, once 1 was outside and had gathered myself a bit, that perhaps 
ivanzaa would give these kids, somehow, their own sense of shared 
emory. Not some magical blackness or Africanness. Not some set of rit- 
ils and symbols of a real or fabricated past. But just one undying memo- 
, some imperishable moment of uncontrived human connection. 1 was 
ankful that this Kwanzaa had, in whatever accidental way, evoked 
ch a memory for me. What else is Kwanzaa, Christmas, or any other 
)liday, in the end, good for? « 

Kwanzaa is about black 
decline, the notion that 
our greatness lies in a 
misty past, before the 
coming of the white man 

CSQAV /^l 

V I 



The literary establishment descends on T. S. Eliot 

By Vince Passaro 

Anum^ rile Imoks Jiscusseti in this essay: 

T. S. Eliot, Anii'Semiiism , and Literary Form, hy Anthony Julius. 

Cainhrid^e University Press. 308 pages. $18.95. 

Great Books: M>i Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers of the 

Western World, hy David Denhy. Simon ik Schuster. 493 pages. $30. 

Heart of Darkness , hy Joseph Conrad. Broadview Press. 245 pages. $7.95. 

Jrii'entions of the March Hare: Poems 1909-1917, hy T. S. Eliot. Harcourt Brace. 472 pages. $30. 

Since we cannot attain to ffreat- 
ness, let us have our revenge hy 
railing at it. 

— Montaigne 


certain kind of land- 
mark was reached when T. S. 
Eliot, Anti-Semitism , and Liter- 
ary Form hegan to gain wide- 
spread attention after it was 
puhlished in England and the 
United States in late 1995. Its 
author, Anthcmy Julius, is a 
literatiue Ph.D. -cum- London 
solicitor, an^l his (.luty, as he 
perceives it, is to prosecute 
Eliot's poetry tor the crime of 
its author's anti-Semitism. 
The hook contains several re- 
assurances ot Julius's utmost 
respect tor Eliot as an artist, 
hut his main husiness is to 
give Eliot's reputation a thor- 
oLigh thrashing. He hegins hy 
accusing Eliot ot heing an 
anti-Semite, which EluU un- 
c|Liest ionahly was, and then 
takes this idea much further 
tli;in pre\'ious critics nl Eliot 
have, hy arguing that anti-Scmirism 
is central to Eliot's work, anel that 

V'mcc Passaro is a cinurihiiunii cditm d/ 
Harper's Magazine. Mis /(is( review. 
"Druiion Piciion." a/'/vcnvd in the Nt'/nein- 
her P'>')(MssHe. 

hi IIARri-RNMA(;A/INl-:/|ANllAKV l^w? 




since Eliot's work is hoth valid as 
poetry and richly anti-Semitic, his 
anti-Semitism shoLild he seen as his 
most ctnnplex and significant aes- 
thetic achievement. "Ignore the an- 
ti-Semitism," luliLis declares, "and 

the poetry itself disappears.' 
Thus is the poet rendei 
utterly vile. Julius's argume 
close and relentless, is ba; 
on one full poem, five passa 
in Eliot's poetry (some 
which were not puhlished 
his lifetime), and a few sc 
tered prose remarks, includ 
a notorious statement abc 
the undesirahility in a Ch 
tian society of "free-think 
Jews." Based on these si 
pickings, one of the two gn 
poets in English (the other 
Yeats) since Blake, Keats, a 
Wordsworth is taken dow 
Yeats, like so many Modem! 
a demi-fascist in his own rig 
no doubt is scheduled for e? 
cution soon. 

Not until the early sumn 
of 1996 did one begin to h( 
much about the book on tl 
side of the Atlantic. The fi 
report came in a vacuous ar 
cle in The New Yorker's T 
of the Town, which crow 
about smart London dinn 
parties and Julius's cresting celebri 
(he was Princess Diana's matrimon 
attorney at the time) and congrat 
lated him, with a jaunty approv 
usually bestowed on strong wrestl( 
or winning ponies, tor having "erec 

llustniriiin hy Henrik DrescI 



1 barriers across every route down 
lich critics have attempted to 
[i.uggle [Eliot's] good name." This 
bulum was followed shortly there- 
ler by serious and approving re- 
lews from Louis Menand in The 
.'.w York Review of Books and 
lichiko Kakutani in the New York 
mes. Negative reviews, a rearing up 
I the old guard for the most part, 
.)uld come later; at first one detect- 
: only the sighs of pleasure that fill 
■I air during the public flogging of a 
liner. The literary community was 
ipressing its charmed gratitude to 
€ who had done for it a dirty but 
icessary job. 

The depth of this gratitude was 
aught home to me shortly after the 
3t reviews appeared, at a party in 
; New York offices of an old and 
jch respected literary agency, 
lere 1 found myself discussing 
ius's book with a woman from the 
iblishing community whose name I 
1 not catch. We agreed that Eliot 
ls an anti-Semite, but the lady did 
t concur with my opinion that this 
;s a relatively minor matter as far 
l> poetry was concerned. She men- 
■ned, as people often do, the po6m 
Jerontion," which contains the 
.es "And the jew squats on the win- 
j w sill, the owner, /Spawned in some 
■aminet of Antwerp." The proto- 
aical reference to the Jew as land- 
d, the nearly scatological squatting, 
d the animalistic "spawned" com- 
"le to give a truly loathsome aspect 
i the image. But unlike Eliot's other 
ti-Semitic lines, this one is marked 
considerable secondary meanings 
30ut which, more below) that con- 
lidict the most immediate one. I 
ve the lady a brief precis of my rea- 
as for believing the line to be some- 
ing more than it appeared to be, 
d her reaction was startling. To 
;al an image from Pete Hammill, 
r face twisted into a fist, and she 
5sed, "Well, all that's very nice." 
Because it is exactly the aim of lit- 
iture to be nice in the way this lady 
;ant — that is, to provide complicat- 
, not particularly useful, and occa- 
mally dangerous pleasure — I was 
/stified by her terms of dismissal, 
nd then it began to dawn on me 
at what her disgust really entailed, 
sides a painful reaction to the anti- 

Semitism itself, was a conviction that 
literature had no right to cause that 
pain, using such unpleasantly effec- 
tive images and words. Perhaps be- 
cause I was educated at the tail end of 
a period when sophisticated responses 
to language and narrative were en- 
couraged,' or perhaps because 1 am 
romantic, I cannot stop believing 
that there still lingers a willingness, 
even a proud willingness, among 
members of the higher realms of 
American literary culture to extend 
to serious art the privilege of causing 
pain, of exorcizing demons, of flirting 
with annihilation, of attempting to 
say the unsayable or give voice to 
what for prudence's and politeness's 
sake should be left unspoken. 

Obviously, no such privilege ex- 
ists, and not because of a prudish 
public but because of an academic 
and procedure-ridden literary world, 
which chooses not to "authorize" 
work that offends or threatens us in 
any way. Despite those in the culture 
wars on the right of the political 
spectrum who have complained that 
the left is responsible for this 
neutered state among critics and 
academics, the new prudery actually 
reflects a reactionary, nineteenth- 
century impulse, a deeply conserva- 
tive desire to bring all cultural ex- 
pression into harmony with the 
moral conventions of our day. It is as 
if we had woken one morning to dis- 
cover that the majority of our critics 
had turned into parents who don't 
read, an irritating deterrent to our 
literary development. Literature's 
function now, according to this 
group, is to affirm the predominant 
cultural values of our time, and the 
agreement that this is its proper role 
seems as unshakable as the ancient 
prohibitions aimed at the protection 

' The heroes of the English department as late 
as the middle 1 970s were figures such as 
Eliot, Conrad, Pound, Joyce, Frjrd, and 
Henry James. Critics such as F. R. Leavis, 
I. A. Richarch, and Lionel Trilling domiiiated 
undergraduate thinking. On our own we read 
William Burroughs, Nathanael West, Flan- 
nery O'Connor, Ralph Ellison, Thomas Pyn- 
chon, Walker Percy, Don DeLillo, writers 
whose visions were the most angular, whose 
light was most severe. In cluss, the Brontes 
and Ge(nge Eliot were considered more daring 
and therefore more interesting than Jane 
Austen, arid no one discussed Trollope at all. 

of virginity, or the contemporary 
ban on smoking in public 


-O take the larger view of Julius's 
success, it is helpful to remember 
that we are currently in the midst of 
one of the flush moments in a lin- 
gering Western orthodoxy that de- 
fines art, first and foremost, as the 
handmaiden of virtue. The new 
moralism is not, as many would 
have it, merely a matter of political 
correctness versus traditional 
canons; it is a projection of a long- 
standing and deeply middle-class 
fear and resentment of art, one that 
has frequently dominated the Amer- 
ican scene and that can be found in 
equal measure among leftist cultural 
critics and conservative opponents 
of whatever is politically or sexually 
offensive. The Western literary in- 
tellectual in the late twentieth cen- 
tury has been, compared with his or 
her brethren of a century or even a 
half-century ago, severely underedu- 
cated and raised in an atmosphere 
full of irrational babble, grave 
pieties, and adamant distinctions. 
We seem to have bred a generation 
of literary critics who know how to 
speak only in the tones of those who 
deplore, who regret, who feel com- 
pelled to express their outrage at 
one or another form of doctrinal de- 
viation. Standing against them are 
almost no advocates of a literature 
that dares to speak unpleasantly or 
even plainly about the darker cor- 
ners of the heart. Today's profes- 
sional critics and literary academics 
are rarely lucid, they are even more 
rarely funny, and in the recent past I 
cannot think of one who has made 
his or her reputation by promoting 
and helping to develop a particular 
creative style or group of writers. 

We live in a time, too, when "art," 
for its economic survival, must be 
peddled as a public good akin to uni- 
versal health care, with a body of ad- 
ministrators paid to make sure every 
population is represented and gets its 
weekly dose. The patrons of art in 
our time are figures with access to 
government and corporate purchase- 
order numbers, and it is a matter of 
political survival for them to claim 
that we are all being personally mid 


socially mi/jnn'ed hy arr. Whar we arc 
not being, they are quick to assure us 
in moments ot wrenching doubt, is 
challenged or disturbed. 

Until recently the growing ortho- 
doxy oi virtue in literature was, tor 
me, only so much cultural noise, a 
Charlie Rose interview with Bill 
Bennett, so to speak, something easi- 
ly tuned out and forgotten after a 
moment's glance. But over the last 
year or so 1 have encountered the 
scene too many times not to notice 
the depth of our era's skepticism 
about great writers and their central 
intentitms. I have been led to the 
sobering realization, probably long 
overdue, that the enemy being bat- 
tled here, the thing being so vigor- 
ously "resisted," to use a crucial 
word Anthony Julius employs to de- 
scribe his mission as a critic of Eliot, 
is not just morally unacceptable 
thoughts, or the canon of dead 

white Europeans, bur 

literature itself. 


hat we despise about litera- 
ture, and what exhausts us about 
modern literature in particular, is its 
irony, its acknowledgment that in 
most cases the beautiful process of 
creation is tinged with something 
slightly immoral, something exploita- 
tive of intimacies and experience, 
rude, vain, self-justifying, disloyal, 
brutal, unrestrained. Edward Said's 
work — in Orwntalism, Culture and Im- 
perialism, and elsewhere — demini- 
strates how the canonical art o\ the 
West in modern times has been both 
an expression of and an appeal to the 
language, assumptitins, and favored 
mythologies of the high merchant 
classes. We can accept this while still 
retaining a conviction that artists, be- 
ing artists, want to take a blade to the 
language, the manners and codes and 
pet ct)n\'entii)ns of their class, and 
slice them up and thrust the bloodv 
remains m inir faces. Modern art in- 
sists on making something significant 
and even beautiful out of ugliness, 
di.ssonance, fever, hatred, anger, fail- 
ure, and pain. Readers, viewers, and 
audiences, fidlowing intiutions ol 
their own, often allow this, bm mar- 
keteers :\n^\ critics usually do not. 

The tragic impulse in literature is 
what such impresarios of art wish to 

M II \KriR'^M.A(;.-\ZINH/J.ANi:.AKV !>)>' 

demolish most of all, especially com- 
plicated or ambiguous tragedy. If one 
must portray tragedy, it should be 
simple and psychologically direct, 
something akin to I^caih of a Sales- 
nuin or Steinbeck's The Red P(my. 
The cultutal apparatchiks are partic- 
ularly weary with literature's resis- 
tance to ideas, its tendency to play 
with them, to put itself above them, 
to poke holes in them. The best lit- 
erature does this in the most infuri- 
atingly complicated ways, making it- 
self difficult to pin down and 
analyze, which explains why in our 
time it is the best writers who have 
to be made into criminals.' 

Then again, even minor writers 
with big names are not exempt: Nor- 
man Rush recently implied in The 
hlew York Times Book Review that 
John le Carre's name shc^uld he added 
to the list of those with suspect atti- 
tudes toward Jews because le Carre's 
The Tailar of Paiuima includes an un- 
comfortably Judas-like portrayal of 
the character Harry Pendel, who is oi 
Jewish descent. Interestingly, le Carre 
chose to fight back, denouncing Rush 
from the stage of the 92nd Street Y 
and taking him on in the Letters sec- 
tion iif the Boole Review. 

hi all, the past year has produced 
evidence aplenty that literature is 
now merely a subcategory within a 
larger historical, moral debate. Be- 
sides Julius's book, a new edition of 
Heart of Darkness, edited by D.C.R.A. 
Goonetilleke, was recently issued, 
with Conrad's short narrative nestled, 
as it were, among other texts about 
the situatiim in the Congii during the 
"Civilization of Central Africa" cam- 
paign at the turn of the century. This 
book, with good scholarly intentions, 
wedges together Conrad's work of in- 
formed imagination with historical 

- Over ihe past dcccule or so u'c have been 
informed that Fkmhcrt ivas a misogynist at 
Louise Colet's expense; H. L. Meneken was 
a quasi-Na~i and anti-Semite; Philip Larkin 
was a T()r;y bully and all-around big^ot; 
Dorothy Parker wcls the worst sort of enabler 
and a promiscuous alcoholic; Onvell ivas a 
tool of the CIA. Dashiell Hammett ivas a 
tool of the (.^mtmunists, and both were 
beastly personally. In no case in my memory 
were the inclinations of the indwidual under 
attack not obvious in his or her writing, and 
in no case have actual readers, as opposed to 
ediicatiirs and critics, jnetcndcd u> care. 

documents quite ancillary to its 
point, a full complement of details! 
garding the conditions Conrad l{ 
observed (or ignored) during his t 
in the C^ongo Basin in 1890. In a n 
lively evenhanded way, it conn 
Conrad palpably to the European 
onization of the continent that 
barely, in Heart of Darkness, refers 
by name, and it hardens the conr 
tion between Conrad and coloiM 
racism made most famous by Niger 
novelist Chinua Achebe in a lect 
delivered twenty years ago, revi 
and reprinted in 1987, and made 
integral component of the influen 
Norton Critical Edition of Heari 
Darkness. It is difficult now to rec 
that until twenty years ago the is 
of colonialism was a relatively mi 
aspect in serit)us criticism of Con 
and Heart of Darkness. 

Edward Said discusses the rac 
and colonial undertones of Heart 
Darh\ess at leiigth in his Culture 
Imperialism. Said is considera 
more careful than a hit man 1 
Julius, and he actually admires ar 
tic creation, for all its frequent ; 
quite necessary blemishes, ne 
wishing a novel or poem or op 
away, or requiring it to be someth 
other than what it is. But he ta 
Conrad's vague references to the 
periority of the British to the Belg 
forms of African colonialism a lit 
too far, 1 think, without givi 
enough weight to the paradoxica 
frequent occasions when Conra 
narrator, Marlow, mcludes essenti 
ly every cimquering nation past a 
present in his ironic dismissals: "T 
conquest of the earth," he rema 
dryly near the beginning of the boi 
"which miistly means the taking 
away from those who have a diff 
ent complexion or slightly flat 
noses than luirselves, is not a pre 

thing when you look ir 

It too much." 



he "problem" of Conrad is 
aforementioned problem of iroi 
this is much of the "problem" of El 
as well. What particularly disturbs 
about writers like Eliot and Conrac 
that they employ such dangero 
forms of irony with utter self-con 
dence and abandon. Readers 
made Lincomfiirtable by the insinu; 



ig suggestions of ugly, painful, de- 
mctive redemptions — something 
iiot summed up in his "Journey of 
le Magi" with the lines, "All this 
as a long time ago, 1 remember,/ 
nd I would do it again, but set 
own/This set down/This: were we 
d all that way for /Birth or Death? 
this Birth was/Hard and bitter 
jony for us, like Death, our death." 
he ugly and painful redemption of 
eart of Darkness is contained in 
lonrad's assertion that the criminal- 
abusive Kurtz is "a remarkable 
an," one whose language, despite 
:S immorality, has an overpowering 
fectiveness and force, even in its 
iinfusion and incoherence. Achebe 
cognizes and attacks the centrality 
the issue of Kurtz's moral and psy- 
lological condition with his famous 
mark: "Can nobody see the prepos- 
rous and perverse arrogance in thus 
ducing Africa to the role of props 
r the break-up of one petty Euro- 
;an mind?" 

Yet it is exactly within the econo- 
y of modern literature to reduce an 
itire continent to a metaphor in 
le development of a single con- 
iousness. This "arrogance" is exact- 
the arrogance of the writer, the 
Titer's prerogative, and 1 suspect 
at in the long run Achebe has hit 
ion the core of our hostility to writ- 
5 of Conrad's stature and authority. 
Obviously, the brush of racism is 
ide enough to paint over the ac- 
implishments of most artists and 
tellectuals at work before 1950, 
10 are guilty of having lived in less 
ilightened times; we can go back to 
ristotle and his famous defense of 
ivery and work our way forward to 
orman Mailer's condescending es- 
y "The White Negro." This maga- 
le less than a year ago published 
1 essay by Jane Smiley (author of 
e "comic" novel Moo and a social- 
3rk version of King Lear called A 
lousand Acres) in which she unta- 
irahly compared Mark Twain with 
still cringe to write the words) 
arriet Beecher Stowe, a deranged 
id hyper-Protestant nineteenth- 
ntury Martha Stewart who wrote 
I unreadably didactic novel called 
ncle Tom's Cabin. Smiley declared 
vain a racist on the grounds that 
'ack, although he likes Jim, doesn't 


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overtly dcclart' J mi his own o-iual 
and how down hctoro him in shame, 
hef^ging tor mercy- L'ricle Tot7)',s Cab- 
in, says Smiley, is a superior no\'cl to 
The Adventures uj Huckleberry Finn, 
because oi the former's more en- 
nobling vision of African Ameri- 
cans. Smiley's essay demimstrates 
vividly the necessity of ignoring the 
liteniry quality of a work in order to 

show it to be morally 



-t the books published over the last 
twelve months are a reliable indica- 
tion, the only defense we have 
against the educated barbarians is, es- 
sentially, the movie critic for New 
York magazine, David Denby, who 
felt it necessary a few years ago to re- 
turn to the innocent world of litera- 
ture as a restorative for his media- 
weary mind. Denby 's maudlin defense 
of the Western canon. Great Books: 
M)! Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, 
Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers 
of the Western World, chronicles his 
return, in the middle of the journey 
o{ his life, to Columbia College's core 
curriculum. At his alma mater he af- 
firms his writerly spirit in the glow iif 
great literature (including, with some 
arguments, Cotirad), not recognizing 
that even in this broadly civilized cur- 
riculum the poiiit of reading seems to 
have been given over entirely to the 
realms of the political and the thera- 
peutic. The question university stu- 
dents reading Heart of Darkness, for 
example, are askei.1 to address today, if 
Denby is a reliable witness, is whether 
Conrad was defending or condemn- 
ing Western civilization; that he was 
doing something entirely more ob- 
scure, difficult, and interesting is a 
problem neither Denby nor the class 
he attends seems to want to address. 
The students here, Denby included, 
read Dante and, as if the Infenio exist- 
ed separately from the Purgatorio and 

the r 

araaiso, concuKlc 

that Dante's 

was a vicious uiiagmation, obsessed 
with punishment and pain. They read 
Montaigne, ani.1 have him compared 
with Walt Whitman and D. H. 
Lawrence, in order to discover, as 
Profes.sor Edward Tayler puts it, that 
"those writers are like you guys. \i)u 
always cherish in yonr hearts that 
sense that \'ou're an " 

(.o ! lAIU'lR'S MAi;,-\/INI- / |,\M l.ARY |W7 

It would ha\e been rude, I suppose, 
to remark at that juncture that Whit- 
man, Montaigne, and Lawrence hatl 
to do considerable intellectual and 
emotional work in order to cherish 
their individuality, work that these 
students have not yet done and that 
few people in any generation do. It is 
clear that the faculty Denby observed 
teaching at (Columbia, as well as Den- 
by himself, have no fundamental con- 
fidence iti the merits of the books 
they teach. Such classes used to begin 
with the premise that are the 
books before us, and it is our task to de- 
termine what they say , what they mean , 
what their intentions and methods are. 
Now, however, we have to concen- 
trate our efforts on the considerably 
less fruitful matter of making a case 
for why it is good fur you and me to read 
these particular books, and how we can 
flatter ourselves and reaffirm our values 
in the process. The implication and 
even declaration put forward at vari- 
ous points by Denby and the faculty 
he observed, that the core classes ex- 
ist for the purpose of helping students 
create better "selves," go unques- 
tioned, it being necessary to avoid the 
sad issue of how rarely the knowledge 
or practice of art makes people better. 
Nevertheless, there are areas of 
knowledge that universities once had 
the nerve to declare simply necessary 
hn their students to study, not in or- 
der to be better people or to enjoy 
themselves but in order to be educat- 
ed people, in a culture that had cer- 
tain criteria for what education is. 

During my own years at Columbia 
in the middle and late 1970s, 1 had 
friends and acquaintances who per- 
fiirmed well in core curriculum 
courses and shoved no signs, then or 
later, of being morally or spiritually 
improved by the experience. They 
knew .something more than they oth- 
erwise would have, and perhaps there 
was a cocktail party one day, or a dis- 
cussion in bed, when what they knew 
came in For such people, gen- 
eral matters of the intellect, and pure- 
ly rational or aesthetic explorations of 
the world and humankind's predica- 
ment in it, will always be something 
of a bafflement or a joke, no matter 
whose canon is currently used. They 
and people like them have gone on to 
become our bosses, our presidents and 


senators and policemen. They aB)"'' 
certainly our journalists. They are -' 
so quite often our children's teache 
as well as our doctors and lawye 
They are the vast majority of us, 
other words. And unless some voc 
component of the cultural apparat 
sigiials them convincingly and oft 
that literature is an important, uniq 
band within the entertainment sp( 
trum, that it has the power both 
offend us and to gratify us at t 
deepest levels, that it has the singu 
capacity to render the essence of cc <^' 
sciousness and the essence of o i"^' 
manners and our history, and tl 
these powers do indeed bestow up 
it an authority not necessarily grant 
to church bulletins or the Sund 
New York Times, our culture will w 
easy conscience relegate literature 
the realm of children's daytime te 
vision programming — -somethi 
soundly tested for virtue and fn 

tionally required for go 



nthony Julius, in the sh( 
time since the publication of his c ii? 
.serration on Eliot and anti-Semitis 
has been anointed Official Eli 
Scold: the long-awaited edition 
Eliot's early verse. Inventions of 
March Hare, much of it famou; 
bawdy and scatological and none o 
particularly important, was publish 
in England in late 1996, and imme 
ately Julius was quoted condemning 
in the New York Times. "They tap, 
the most puerile way imaginab 
racist fantasies of the sexual superic 
ty of blacks," the critic-divorce law 
hamimphed. In March the book v 
be published in the United States 
Harcourt Brace, and the howls of 
jured sensibilities will no doubt fill t 
air for weeks. Eliot refused to publ 
these poems in his lifetime becai! 
they did not meet his standards; in u 
new morality-speak they become, 
the New York Times , "40 Poems TlJ 
Eliot Wanted to Hide . . ." 

Despite such silliness, Julius's b 
on Eliot seems to me a landmark 
cause it takes all of the varieties £ 
tics of this kind of moral reading 
their highest expression. It is exe 
plary in its flaws — a kind of iiberti 
encyclopedic in its historical mora 
ing about literature. When, near 

ifid, Julius refers to his own reading 
Eliot as an act of "resistance," this 
ord gives much away. That a writer 
' Eliot's stature and significance 
;ust be "resisted" implies that we 
aders are an oppressed people, tyr- 
mized by our betters. In the profes- 
onal training ground of Ph.D. pro- 
,ams, this is no doubt a tangible 
iality: new bodies of literature are 
-eded to keep the profession going, 
5t as corpses are needed in medical 
hools. Excellence is, professionally 
eaking, uninteresting and therefore 
(|spect as a criterion. Thus, it has 
en a central, self-preserving aim of 
ofessional criticism over the last 
"enty years to make great writers 
■pear to be less good than they are 
id lesser writers appear to be more 
iportant and talented. Besides fill- 
g an industrial need, this effort is 
;. emotional impulse, the defensive 
■>ponse of an ersatz egalitarian cul- 
re to the horror it sees in great lit- 
'ature and the multiple ambiguities 
lat great literature invokes. 
To give Julius his due, he butts his 
ad against these issues at a time 
len most other academic critics 
ve long ago accepted them as giv- 
I . Julius believes that in order to 
ike his claims significant he must at 
ist acknowledge Eliot as a major 
et, even a great poet, while at the 
jne time skinning him like a rabbit. 

i j s problem is therefore as follows: if 
e poetry contains anti-Semitism 
is great poetry, and if the poet is 
anti-Semite but an admirable fig- 
(; in twentieth-century letters, then 
I y traditional view of greatness leads 
e to conclude that Eliot's anti- 
I mitism doesn't matter. This is an 
I acceptably difficult and dangerous 
j;a. If one can, as Julius tries to do, 
move from the system of literary 
! lues any substantial aesthetic con- 
ilerations — any sense that literary 
1 '.atness entails the straining of Ian- 


age and image (even in the de- 
lved and damaged ways that are 
r inheritance) toward what is good 
d true and beautiful and redemp- 
e in the muddled experience of hu- 
man consciousness — then 
the problem goes away. 


understand Eliot's poetry, even 
early poetry, I believe, it is nec- 

cessary to take into account his 
Christianity. Eliot's religion, Anglo- 
Catholicism, is a higher-than-high 
version of Anglicanism only a foot- 
step away from Rome, and his attach- 
ment to it seems to have derived from 
an odd combination of his political 
mood and his authentic spirituality. It 
owes a good deal, paradoxically, to 
the anti-Semite Charles Maurras and 
Maurras's Action Fran^aise, one of 
the most influential anti-Semitic po- 
litical movements in pre-World War 
II Europe. Anti-Semitism was not 
merely an emotional centerpiece to 
this politics but a crucial component 
of its attempt to combat liberal 
democracy and all that it stands for. 
Maurras's attachment to Catholicism 
was entirely unspiritual: in Catholi- 
cism, Maurras saw the most effective 
arm of European social order. Eliot 
seems to have been led to his conver- 
sion through a similar political senti- 
ment, and the social-marshaling as- 
pect of Christianity held continuing 
appeal to him long after his conver- 
sion had developed into one of the 
most aesthetically ambitious and 
compelling sources of devotional art 
in our century.^ 

As a literary critic Eliot was impe- 
rious and offhanded yet curiously 
comprehensive. As a social critic he 
was a monarchist, an antidemocrat. 
Aesthetically, he was a terrific snob. 
All of this shows up in his poetry, but 
it is not the point of his poetry. It was 
Eliot's constant effort to take the stuff 
of the neurotic, damaged, modern 
personality, and the stuff of everyday 
irritation, anger, fear, loathing, and 
contempt — the self, in all its hor- 
rors — and try to move it toward some 
divine plateau (toward "extinction," 
he would say) where the burdens of 

-' H!.s two essays "The Idea of a Christian So- 
ciety' and "Notes Towards the Definition oj 
Cuitwre," collected together in the volume 
Christianity and Culture, while containing 
few explicit references to jews , argue in a the- 
oretical way fen a conception of a culture or- 
ganized by a cohesive, universally Christian 
society. In a complex appreciation of Eliot, 
Cynthia Ozick has noted that his ability so 
calmly to develop this notion in the years jmt 
before and after the Second World War — 
with knowledge of Nazism and, later, the 
Holocaust yet with no acknowledgment tlua 
similar uni-cidtural ideas had been given their 
exjrression in them — is rather hk)od-chilling. 



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personality tall ,uvay and rhe trurh, 
painful and retributi\e thouf^h ir may 
he, makes itself known. This effort, 
this nanrative movement toward God, 
occurs within the poems that predate 
his conversion, albeit in fairly va^ue 
and allegorical terms. Later, after 
"Gerontion" (1920), "The Waste 
Land" (1922), and "The Hollow Men" 
(1925), the effort becomes more ex- 
plicit. Eventually, after The Four 
Quartets (1943), one can look back 
over all his poetry and see it as one 
work (this is the way he attempted to 
see it) re-creating that movement 
over a greater period of poetical time. 

Even in the prime of Eliot's influ- 
ence, many readers needed to over- 
look his Christianity; most who ad- 
mired his aesthetic achievements 
and theories had no desire to indulge 
his monarchical politics and his hy- 
per-old-fashioned High Churchism. 
A habit of sidestepping his Chris- 
tianity makes it all the easier to read 
the less explicitly Christian early po- 
etry, ignoring any hints of spiritual 
intent. Julius does so, with a passion. 
He writes at length about the afore- 
mentioned anti-Semitic lines from 
"Gerontion" but seems to have little 
inkling of what the meaning of the 
poem that contains them might be. 

"Gerontion" is a poem about an 
old man waiting to die. He resides in 
a house that serves as the central 
metaphor of the poem: the house is 
his life and contains history itself. 
His life and this history, as he is able 
to perceive them, are vacant, with- 
out ghosts, without issLie, without 
forgiveness. He awaits his death in 
fear of being devoured, with an over- 
riding sensation of loss. He comes in 
the end to address some larger Other 
whom we can take to be God. The 
passages opening the poem contain 
the offending lines: 

Here J am, cm uld man m a dry month, 

Bcin^ rcLiil tu hy a bay, waiimf^jor ram. 

1 wai neither ai the hot fiutes 

nor fomiht in the warm rain 

Nor knee deep in the sail ni.irsli, heavrnp^ a 

cutlxiss , 
Biiit-'n hy flies, 
M>' house IS a deea^ed house. 
And the jew squats on the umdnw sill, the 

owner , 
Spawned m sim\e estamntet oj .Antwerp, 
Blistered in Brussels, patehed a)id peeled in 

London . 

The g,oat eoujihs at ni^ht m the field over- 

Roeks, moss, sioneerop, iron, merds. 

The woman keeps the kitchen , makes tea , 

Sneezes at evening, poking, the peevish 

I an okl man, 

A didl head amimg u'indy spaces. 

Signs are taken jor u'ondcr.s. "We woukl 
sec a sign!" 
The word uiihin a word, unable to speak a 

word , 
Swaddled v.ith darkness. In the juveseence 

of the year 
Came Christ the tiger . . . 

The image of the Jew is unpleasant 
and disturbing, but that he is the 
owner of the metaphorical house 
containing history itself suggests 
something else about him. That he is 
squatting on the windowsill is scato- 
logical, but it also suggests an animal 
about to leap — Christ the tiger, who, 
later in the poem, "devours" us. That 
the Jew was "spawned in some esta- 
minet of Antwerp" furthers the sug- 
gestion. "Estaminet" means, in the 
common parlance, "cafe" or "bistro." 
But there is another meaning to the 
word, one that would have been well 
known in Antwerp specifically, since 
it comes from the Walloon dialect 
spoken in Belgium: it means "man- 
ger." Eliot doubles the image of 
Christ in the manger by appropriating 
language from the Elizabethan bishop 
Lancelot Andrewes, who, preaching 
on the meanings of Advent and 
Christmas, created the mesmerizing 
image of the second person of the 
Trinity, the Logos, now arrived as hu- 
man infant, as "the word within a 
word, unable to speak a word." Julius 
sees none of this. A universe in 
which a horrifying, hostile, contemp- 
tuous image of a "jew" can also be 
made to suggest God, in his most ten- 
der moment of Incantation as well as 
in his terrifying justice, is a universe 
in which Anthony Julius and many 
other critics steeped in comfortable 
assumptions would prefer not to live. 
Literature is not the game 

Hfor them, 
ere are some lines froui The 
Four Quartets and the moral miinster 

Sudden in a shajt of sunlight 
Even while the dust moves 
There rises the hidden laughter 


Of children in the joliage 
Quick nou^, here, now, always — 
Ridiculous the waste sad time 
Stretching before and after. 

We learn to explain what we 
because we have been mov 
painfully or otherwise, by what 
have read, and we want to und 
stand why, and how, and whethe 
will happen again. It is from this 
perience that I formed certain bel 
about Joseph Conrad, about ot 
writers, and, most importantly for 
purposes of this discussion, ab 
T. S. Eliot. From many readings 
Eliot's work, from reading about 
life, and no doubt from projecting 
wishes onto his distant figure, I 
lieve that he was an arrogant ciS 
selfish man, as so many great artHT 
are (or, perhaps, must be). But I f 
believe that he differed from oth 
of his kind because he understc 
that humility was required of h 
whether he managed to muster it 
not. 1 believe that his work expres 
a fascinatingly traceable progress 
from a position of profound mo 
confusion and disillusionment to 
of increasing spiritual wisdom; tl 
when at last he had written the pc 
ry that expressed this progression 
well as his own extraordinary 1; 
guage would allow, he stopped s< 
ously writing poetry. I believe thai 
is a shocking and destructive criti 
error to assert that his most dram; 
moral confusions define him, a 
would be to assert that about 
person. 1 believe that great art 
great artists have no other mo 
obligation than to have the cour; 
to dramatize a distinct moral conl 
tion, and this Eliot did better th 
any other poet of his time. Lastly! 
believe that Anthony Julius's fA 
quent but unconvincing assertionsSa 
Eliot's greatness are contrived, tl t 
where Eliot's greatness resides Jul 5 
has missed it. He has done so willt - 
ly, and many other critics of our d: , 
approaching other great artists, ' 
the same, because it is greatness its 
that they resent and must "resist, 
believe that they make this mista 
not merely for a variety of obvic 
and boring political reasons but \ 
cause they recognize, and cannot t 
erate, the truth that great art is 
ways partly a rebuke. 

6H HARPER'S MAtiA^lNE/J.^Nl'.-XKV l'W7 







■ , _^ 


By Mary Gordon 


e Morriseys bought their house 

a County Clare in the early Sixties, 

letore the crush of others — Germans 

iiostly — had considered Irish proper- 

y. h had been a bishop's 

esidence, a bishop of the 

Church of Ireland, a Protes' 

ant, but it had fallen into 

lecay. Repairs had to be 

ione piecemeal. The Mor- 

iseys were both editors at a 

cholarly press, and they 

lad three children who 

leeded to be educated; it 

vas twenty years before the 

louse was really comfort- 

ible for guests. 
The house looked out 

over a valley whose ex- 

Danse could only be under- 

itood as therapeutic. So it 
Uas natural, given the 
|:normous number of bed- 

ooms and the green pros- 
pect, like a finger on a 
nruised or wounded heart, 

:hat the Morriseys' friends 

vho were in trouble, or 

getting over trouble, ended 

ip in the house. Sometimes these 

/isits were more indefinite than Hel- 

m would have liked. But she and 

-lichard must have known, buying 

iuch a house, that this outcome was 

nevitable. And it soon began to 

^ary Gordon is the author o/The Shadow 
Vlan, a memoir. She is at work on Spend- 
ng, a comic-erotic novel. 

seem inevitable that friends from 
three continents — North America; 
Australia, where their son lived; and 
Europe, where they had numerous 

connections — were always showing 
up, particularly now that the Mor- 
riseys had retired and were spending 
May to October of every 
year at Bishop's House. 


tavinia Willis ran into Rachel, 
Helen and Richard's daughter, on the 
72nd Street subway platform. Lavinia 
was crying, or rather she was sitting 

on a bench trying not to cry, but tears 
kept appearing under the lenses of 
her sunglasses. She was crying be- 
cause she'd just broken off a ten-year 
love affair, and although 
she hadn't seen Rachel in 
three years, Rachel was 
the perfect person to run 
into it you were crying be- 
hind your sunglasses. 
You'd be able to believe 
she hadn't noticed, since it 
was perfectly possible that 
she hadn't. Rachel was an 
oboist, and she often 
seemed not to have too 
much truck with the ordi- 
nary world. She and 
Lavinia had been room- 
mates at Berkeley in 1964 
but had both avoided poli- 
tics. Not that they were re- 
actionary or oppc^sed to 
what the demonstrations 
stood tor. In Lavinia's case, 
it was that she had a hor- 
ror of anything that she 
might understand as per- 
formance. In Rachel's 
case. It was simply that her devotion 
to her instrument, a mixture of pas- 
sion and ambition, had cut her off 
from what might have been called 
the common mistakes of the era of 
drugs, sex, and rock and roll. 

Lavinia's parents had divorced and 
remarried, both unsuccessfully, and 
had divorced and remarried again. 
When Lavinia was at Berkeley, they 


were tin their third partners, Thrs 
made the decisinii oi where to ^o on 
hohdays a iiightmare; e\en Rachel 
could see this. For all her nuisicianly 
abstraction, she had inherited scime- 
thin^ of her mother's thin skin tor 
people in distress. She invited 
Lavinia to come home with her for 
Christmas of their freshman year. 

Lavinia slept on a cot in the living 
room of the Morriseys' lightless, 
book-encrusted railroad apartmerit on 
the corner of 1 19th Street and Am- 
sterdam Avenue. But only once; in 
her .sophtimore year she lett Berkeley 
to get married. Everyone understcxKl 
why, or at least they understood that 
it had something to do with the ex- 
treme disorder of her parents' lives. 
Those who thought the marriage was 
a good thing were happy that Lavinia 
would have a comfortable and stable 
home, tor clearly Bradford Willis was 
the essence of stability. Those who 
thought Lavinia was rushing into 
something feared she had inherited 
her parents' heedlessness, a shaky un- 
derstanding ot marriage learned at her 
parents' joined or separated knees. 

But it surprised everyone that two 
years into the marriage, when 
Lavinia was only twenty-one and 
not finished with her degree at 
N.Y.U., she became pregnant. Be- 
fore this, her professors hadn't 
known quite what to do with her. 
She was studying histt)ry, focusing 
on the Dutch Renaissance, a period 
she liked because of its subtlety and 
attention to detail. They could see 
she was an outstanding student, but, 
since she was married, they were re- 
luctant to suggest graduate school. 
So it was something of a relief to 
them when she got pregnant: they 
no longer had to consider her. 

Brad was in a management pro- 
gram at Chase Manhattan, and his 
parents were happy to help them 
with their rent. They lived on 8Lst 
Street between Lexington and Third 
but moved three blocks north a year 
and a halt later, when, siu'prising 
everyone again, Lavinia became 
pregnant a second time. 

In those years, Helen Morrisey was 
more help than Lavinia would have 
guessed. She'd drop by once a month 
with a pot it jam and a book tor 
La\'inia to reai.1, something Lavinia 

iii her fatigue had to work hard to 
concentrate on. But the mental effort 
reassured her, and she was strength- 
ened by Helen's belief that she was 
still capable of abstract thought. 

Helen would come on a Friday 
morning — she worked a four-day 
week — and talk to Lavinia about 
politics. She was a draft counselor 
and encouraged Lavinia to get in- 
volved, but Lavinia said she was in 
an awkward position generationally; 
she'd teel uneasy advising men not 
much yi)unger than herself. She was 
sure they'd see her as an East Side 
matron with two children, and it 
would make her feel finished, done 
up. Helen absolutely understood; she 
left Lavinia the address of congress- 
men and senators to write to, and 
Lavinia did, regularly, following Hel- 
en's instructions, changing the text 
of her letters slightly each time in 
case that wc^iuld mean something. 

Lavinia loved Helen because Hel- 
en had a way of asking you for things 
that were a bit difficult for you but 
not impossible. You telt enlarged do- 
ing the thing she asked you for, and 
never hopeless. She would do things 
for you, too, but she always made 
you believe they were things she 
wanted to do, and if she found them 
too onerous, she'd stop doing them. 
She made you feel that her lite was 
full but nt)t overcrowded. She and 
Richard always seemed to have room 
for people, partly because they 
worked as a tag team. More than 
Richard, Helen would suddenly need 
to be alone, and would wander off 
sometimes when someone was in the 
middle of a sentence, leaving Rich- 
ard to say to the bewildered speaker, 
"Yes, yes, I know exactly what you 
mean." They seemed to swim 
through people, lifting their heads 
occasionally to offer a meal, a blan- 
ket, a magazine. If you were in trou- 
ble, they conveyed their belief that 
your situation was only temporary. 
They knew yt)u had it in you to 
overcome whatever was, at that mo- 
ment, in your way. 

They managed to convey that to 
their own children because the three 
of them prospered cjuietly, unspec- 
tacularly. Rachel moved back to 
New York, where she taught at the 
Manhattan School ot Music and 

played in various chamber orcHs-if 
tras. Neal was working in ecoloi.|al 
waste management in Melbou,*.. 
Clara was the only one who jbH^ 
made money. She and her girlfriMu 
ran a catering business in San ¥j^ 
Cisco that had, for some reason tjey 
didn't understand, become fashijQ- 
able. When Helen talked about jgr 
children, she said she felt the\|fll 
worked too hard. Only Meal id 
children, two sets, by his two i>r- 
riages (his first wife had died i| a 
train wreck), but they were in /)S- 
tralia. So Helen had room, in jer 
grandmotherly imagination, ur 
Lavinia's boys. She liked boys(>- 
creasingly as she aged, and gi» 
more boyishly valorous herself, rr 
romantic about the untramme 
the ramshackle, 


hen the boys were ten 
eleven, Lavinia went to Teach 
College at Columbia for a mast 
degree. She got a job teaching hi 
ry at the Watson School, the 
girls' school in New York. She 
considered a thrilling teacher, 
manding and imperious, althoi 
everyone understood this was a n 
thrown up by shyness, and that 
heart rejoiced and bled at the 
umphs and failures of her girls. T 
adored her; they fell in love w 
her. She grew, with middle age, i 
a surprising voluptuousness 
field-hockey player's body somel: 
suddenly understood itself. IS/ 
looked at her, as she left her thirt 
in the dangerous way they'd loo 
at her mother, a way that, before t 
time, she'd tried to forestall. 

But as she approached forty, it 
gan to seem foolish to forestall it 
longer. She had a series of enjoya 
but otherwise pointless affairs. C 
day she was in the back of a c 
changing, under her coat, from a 
blouse to a cotton shirt. She'd 
the house in the cotton, to k 
Brad from suspecting, and b 
changed into the silk in the cab 
the way to the hotel. Now .she \ 
to change back, and wipe the p 
fume from her neck with a Hai 
Wipe. She caught a glimpse of h 
self in the driver's mirror and 
grotesque. She was only thirty-eig^^^ 

70 H.'\RnER'SM,'\(^-\ZlNH/ JANUARY 1W7 

.e'd been married eighteen years, 
>e'd done all right with her mar- 

lige. The apartment was elegant; 
ey had a nice house for the week- 
ds in Dutchess County. But here 
e was, changing her blouse in a 

1! b. Her youthfulness seemed like a 

i t and a challenge it would be not 
ily stupid but ungrateful to ignore. 
le knew Brad would be hurt, but 

' e imagined it would take him 
lOut a year to remarry. He was 
ocked, at first, mainly by his fail- 
e to foresee the breakup. He was 

jfDre hurt than she knew, but she 
IS right, within a year and a half 

|.Vd married again, a Swiss woman 

I 10 sometimes wore little hats to 
nner parties and who ruled his so- 

j i\ calendar with an iron hand. 

I I For several years, again to every- 
le's surprise, Lavinia didn't settle 

i"wn. Then she met Joe Walsh, who 
IS so clearly the wrong type that 
eryone knew it couldn't last, not 

jLng anyway. 

1)1 But it went on for ten years. He 
ij IS a player in the Koch Adminis- 
l-ation; nobody was exactly sure 
^iiat he did, only that it was some- 
jl ing that had something to do with 
lity Hall. When Koch lost, Joe kept 
)ing whatever it was he did for 
inkins, which was unusual, people 
ought, and must mean that he re- 
ly knew what he was doing, what- 
'er that was. As all Lavinia's 
iends began drinking less in the 
te Eighties, he didn't. For a while, 
;ople thought it was just that he 
'as drinking as he always had and 
vey noticed it more because they'd 
ppped. But then they had to admit 
II themselves — they wondered if 
ivinia had admitted it — that Joe 
as if not an alcoholic then a prob- 
m drinker. He also kept smoking 
hen everyone else had quit, and 
'en took up cigars. One night, after 
dinner at the Morriseys' on 119th 
:reet, he earned Richard's enmity 
rever by putting his cigar out in 
le water of a glass bowl Helen had 
led with nasturtiums. Richard had 
own used to the transgressions of 
s friends, his children, and his chil- 
en's friends, but he adored his wife 
if they were new lovers, and see- 
g her face when the cigar sizzled in 
le nasturtium water, he knew that 

she felt violated, and this he could 
not forgive. 

It was soon after that night that 
Lavinia decided she'd had enough of 
Joe. Ten years ot feverish arguments 
followed by feverish lovemaking, 
sour-mouthed morning accusations, 
resolutions, and recriminations 
seemed suddenly to settle in her spine 
like the aftermath of a debilitating 
fever. She realized that this feeling of 
bruised exhaustion had become so 
habitual that she hadn't noticed it. 
But she noticed it now. And so the 
next time Joe did something mortify- 
ing — he insulted one of their guests 
on the new color of her hair, asking 
her who, for God's sake, she thought 
she was kidding — Lavinia simply said, 
"I've had enough." It was her apart- 
ment they were living in; she gave 
him a month to find a place to live. 

Of course she would have to go 
somewhere while he was still in the 
apartment, and she didn't have time 
to make plans. But plans had to be 
made. That was why she was crying 
when she ran into Rachel on the 
subway platform. "My parents would 
love to have you, 1 know they 
would," Rachel said. "I'll phone 
them tonight. You're still at the 
same number?" 

Lavinia said yes she was, that was 
what was ghastly about it. She was 
sleeping in her son's room, in the 
bottom bunk of his childhood bed. 

The next morning, Helen phoned 
as if she knew exactly the right mo- 
ment to call — it was eleven in the 
morning but Joe had just left for 
work. She said that of course Lavinia 
must come to them, but she'd have 
to get herself to Bishop's House from 
Shannon. It was only forty-five min- 
utes, but anyway, Helen said, she'd 
he happier with her own car, she'd 
want to see the countryside and not 
be dependent on the Morriseys to 
shepherd her. 

Lavinia left two days alter she 
spoke to Helen. She slept five hours 
of the six-hour flight, so she hadn't a 
lot of time for speculating about what 
her stay at Bishop's House would be 
like. She knew it would leave her 
feeling quiet and without malice — 
"all passion spent" was the phrase 
that kept going through her head. 
She reminded herself that Helen and 


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Richard were eighty and eighty-rwn, 
and was prepared to do a 
lot of the cooking. 


he drive from Shannon was as 
easy as Helen had said it would he. 
Lavinia had never heen to Ireland 
before, and kept trying to resist mak- 
ing cliched remarks to herself about 
the quality ot the greenness. But she 
couldn't help it; it was so purely 
green, so without blue or yellow, or 
purple even, that she wanted it in 
her mouth, which felt scalded from 
recriminations, or against her eye- 
lids, which telt thin and lacerated by 
hot tears. 

She'd bought a dozen bagels and 
two pounds of hazelnut coffee, which 
she knew Helen especially liked. 
They'd be pleased by the gift, its 
cheapness, its knowledge of their 
habits. The coffee smell seeped 
through the shiny fabric of her suit- 
case and made her anxious for ar- 
rival, anxious to feel at 



- he front of Bishop's House was 
white stucco. Old trees surrounded 
it, elms and chestnuts, at once do- 
mestic and venerable. The kind, 
Lavinia thought, you just don't get 
in America. There were two cars 
parked in front of the house, a small 
white Ford and a black convertible 
sports car — a 1965 Karmann Ghia, 
Lavinia knew, because Brad's parents 
had bought them one as a wedding 
present. It was in perfect condition, 
and Lavinia wondered if restoring 
old cars was a hobby Richard had 
taken up. It seemed unlikely. 

How wonderfid they looked, 
Lavinia thought, both of them open- 
ing their arms to embrace her. They 
were so American, the best ot Amer- 
ica, forthright and reserved and gen- 
erous. They became more them- 
selves as they grew older, softer and 
more tolerant. Tears of love came to 
her eyes, and she buried them in the 
wool of Richard's shoulder. 

"I'll take you to your room," Hel- 
en said. The huge black front door 
opened to a hallway tiled black and 
white. Almost directly behind the 
dcx)r was a wide mahogany staircase 
with a red stair carpet faded in places 
from the sun. Lavinia's room was the 


sect)nd door from the staircase; she 
knew from Rachel that Bishop's 
House had six bedrooms. 

"You look done in," Helen said. 
"You probably want a sleep, hut I'd 
resist it. Try to stay awake till nine 
or so, get yourself on Irish time. I'll 
make cciffee and we'll have a walk." 

"Look what Lxe brought you," 
Lavinia said, flourishing her Zabar's 

"Hazelnut," said Helen. "You're a 
perfect angel, as always. I'm afraid 
I'm not, neither perfect nor an angel. 
I'm afraid I'm a bit of an old fool. 
I've allowed something stupid to 

Lavinia's heart sank; she was 
afraid Helen was going to tell her 
that she was ill, or that Richard was, 
and that she'd have to leave because 
one of them was going t(5 the hospi- 
tal. She couldn't bear the thought; 
she could have taken the illness or 
death of one of her own parents 
more lightly than Helen or Rich- 
ard's. It was absolutely essential to 
the well-being of the world that they 
be in it. 

Helen sat down i^in the bed and 
patted it so that Lavinia would sit 
beside her. 

"Do you remember our friend 
Nigel Henderson?" 

"I'm afraid I don't," Lavinia said. 

"You must have met him one time 
or another. He and his wife, Liz, 
lived next door to us for three years. 
He was on some kind ot reverse 
lend-lease to Columbia back in the 
Seventies. They're English. Perhaps 
you were too busy with the chil- 

"I'm not young enough for you to 
be erasing whole decades," Lavinia 

"Nonsense, you're a baby. It's just 
that you're getting over a love affair. 
It makes everyone feel ancient," 
Helen said, making Lavinia wonder, 
tor the first time, it she'd been im- 
faithful to Richard. 

"Poor old Nigel," Helen said. 
"He's sort iit a mess. Liz left him for a 
woman, and he stopped taking an 
interest m teaching. He shacked up 
with one ot his students and took 
early retirement. They were gi'ing to 
live in Bali on something, but it nev- 
er came oft. She took off nistead. 

Anyway, here he is, no job, no 
friend, and I'm afraid he's just 
told he has terminal cancer." 

"How terrible!" Lavinia s 
"How old is he.'" 


"My age," Lavinia said. 

"So you see, when he phoned 
days ago, really sounding desper 
asking if he could come over on 
car ferry, we didn't feel we could 

"Of course not," Lavinia said. 

"He's always heen a bit pathe 
one of those overgrown hoys, 
this is really dreadful." 

"Dreadful," said Lavinia. 

"And dreadful for you. You cc 
here to be petted and recover y 
spirits and we turn you into an ar 
of mercy." 

"Maybe it'll be good for m 
Lavinia said. "Put my own troubl 

"And there's always the Ir 
countryside. Nothing can spoil th 

The kitchen was in the hasem 
and was dark, but Helen had mad 
cheerful with flowering plants 
brightly colored pottery. Richard 
at the stone sink, filling an elec 

"Angelic Lavinia brought us s^ 
hazelnut coffee," Helen said. 

"Good God," a voice said from 
other, darker end of the kitch 
"You Americans can never le 
well enough alone." 

"This is Nigel," Helen said, 
make him go to that dark corne 
he has to smoke." 

There are some bodies that belc 
to a particular time period, Lavi; 
thought. Medieval bodies, eij 
teenth-century bodies. Nigel Hi 
derson's was the Sixties model 
was long-legged and narrow-chest 
his jeans were tight, and he Wi 
sandals with a leather ring for his 
toe. His hair was gray and wavy, a 
he wore it to his shoulders. 

He walked toward her. "Someh 
in all my ghastly years in New Y( 
we managed not to meet — whi 
made them even ghastlier." 

His eyes traveled from Lavini 
breasts to her thighs in a way tl|| 
made her feel the time difference-! 
was 4:00 A.M. in New York and s! 
wanted to be asleep. 

] 'I'll just help Helen with the cof- 
\ ," she said. "We all know Richard's 


'Unfair, unfair," Richard said. 

'/Perfectly true," Helen said. "1 only 
put up with him for his 

- -■- conversation." 

. Aelen walked with Lavinia 
ough what she called "our field." 
)thing grew there but grass, and 
len apologized for that. It made 

- feel like a tourist, she said, wast- 
; the country's riches, but she real- 
A'asn't up for raising cattle or even 
;ping goats. 

I think it's all right, Helen. The 
jntry's lucky to have you." 
Helen frowned. She hated being 
i'mplimented, and Lavinia knew 
:iit and felt slapped. 
'1 wouldn't be surprised if Nigel 
;d his charms out on you. I sup- 
ie it's understandable, given what 
s facing right now, but it might be 
lore for you. On the other hand, it 
ght be amusing for you. 1 can 
ver tell." 
Tell what?" 

'What, or who, young women 
d attractive. Or anyone, for that 
itter. Of course he's attracted to 
i. 1 suppose it's unfair of us, offer- 
] him a bed down the hall from 
ch a sexy girl." 

"Hardly a girl, Helen," she said. 

'"That's how I think of you, and 

1 sure Nigel does, too." 

IfFor a moment, Lavinia liked 

I; inking of herself as a young girl, 

i dking down a street, her step 

|uncy with the knowledge that all 

j|ss that fell on her desired her. But 

|ly for a moment. Then she real- 

:d her body was tired, worn out, 

ied up, and what she wanted was 

I it sex but replenishment and rest. 

"Oh God, Lavinia, I'm afraid we've 

t you in an awful spot. 1 hope at 

'I ist he'll leave you alone to read and 

ilk. And the lake just down the 

ad here is lovely for swimming, if 

u can bear the cold, which 1 know 

u can because of your summers in 

aine. 1 know he can't stand it. He's 

vays complaining about the cold. 

id he's a late riser. So get up early 

th me, we'll have breakfast togeth- 

if I'll make a lunch for you, and you 

n pack it on your back with a book 

and be on your own. And thank God 
you have your car." 

It sounded like a good plan, a re- 
freshing plan, and Lavinia knew that 
was what Helen meant. But it made 
her feel a little sick, both fearful and 
ashamed, her childhood feeling 
when she was being packed off some- 
where, sent off for someone else's 
idea of her pleasure. 

Richard and Helen didn't modify 
their policy of leaving their guests to 
themselves because Nigel had termi- 
nal cancer, or because when he was 
left alone he seemed to do nothing 
but take over the sofa in the pretty 
sitting room, empty Richard's 
whiskey bottles into his glasses, and 
fill the clear air with the smoke of 
his cigarettes. He left the packets — 
Silk Cuts — in the grate of the fire- 
place. They collected there until 
someone — Helen probably — re- 
moved them. It was summer, no one 
was lighting fires. Did he think, 
Lavinia wondered, that his packets 
just disappeared? She wanted to say 
that to him, and she wanted to ask 
him if he thought it was good for 
someone with terminal cancer to go 
on smoking, or didn't he feel that all 
that smoking had brought him to 
this pass. But she didn't say anything 
because she didn't want to upset 
Helen and Richard, who could only 
go on as they did if they believed 
their guests were getting on just fine. 

Nigel wanted attention — from the 
Morriseys, from Lavinia — but he 
went about getting it exactly the 
wrong way, as wrongheadedly as a 
child who will never win his parents' 
love and whose very gesture leeches 
what little sense of duty they might 
have. Helen walked in the mornings. 
Lavinia sometimes joined her but 
only sometimes, on the days that 
Helen specially asked her to. She 
knew if Helen didn't ask her it was 
because she v,'anted to be alone. In 
the afternoons, if it was warm, Helen 
swam in the little lake, and she did 
want Lavinia's companionship. 
Richard didn't swim, but she made 
him come with her if no one else was 
swimming, in case "1 get a heart at- 
tack and disappear." 

Helen said it matter-of-factly, as 
she might have said, "In case there 
are no bananas in the market today." 

This was the way the Morriseys dealt 
with their age. Nothing was avoided, 
but nothing was dwelt on longer 
than it should be. They always made 
you feel, Lavinia thought, that they 
knew how to live. That was why it 
was good to be around them, and 
that was why Lavinia said nothing to 
Nigel, even at his most unpalatable. 

She said nothing when she 
opened the door after her bath and 
found him leaning on the wall right 
across from the bathroom, slouched 
against it like a juvenile delinquent, 
smoking one of his endless ciga- 
rettes. And she said nothing when 
one night he'd had too much wine 
to drink and went on a tirade about 
what he called today's woman. 
"Womb-man. They have a womb, 
hut they want to be men." 

"I mean, for God's sake," he said. 
"Anatomical differences count for 
something. Men have more strength. 
Women can rear and nurse children. 
I mean, shouldn't that tell us all 
something? Or am 1 quite mad? Per- 
haps I am quite mad. That's what Liz 
thought. No, I'm wrong. That's not 
what she thought at all. She just 
thought I was stupid. Plain stupid. 
'You think with your cock,' she said. 
That was her greatest insult. And 
precisely that dyke's greatest asset. 
Made her brain clean: no cock to 
cock it up." 

"I'll just make coffee for every- 
one," Helen said. 

Richard suggested that perhaps 
one day soon, if the weather was 
good, they might all drive up to 
Coole Park, where Lady Gregory had 
lived, and see the tree where Yeats 
and Synge had carved their names. 

"I mean, really that's what it was 
all about with Liz. She couldn't stand 
that I had a penis and she didn't. 
That's what it all came down to. She 
rejected my penis out of her own 
bloody envy at not having one." 

"1 think that's been considered 
and rejected as a theory," Lavinia 
said. She looked at Richard's disap- 
pointed eyes and wished that she'd 
kept her resolve of saying nothing. 

"Wall, wot wuz yer problem," he 
said in what he thought was an Amer- 
ican accent. "Was your husband's 
cock too big or not big enough.'" 

"Nigel, you must go to bed now," 


said Helen. "Yoii seem o\ertireJ." 

He covered his face with his 
hands. Lavinia thought that his 
hands were his best feature; he 
should have covered his face with 
them all the time. Then she could 
see that he was weeping. His shoul- 
ders shook and he began sobbing 
loudly, with no impulse to silence 
himself or to stop. 

"I'm not overtired, Helen. As you 
perfectly well know. I'm drunk, and 
I'm dying." 

It would have helped if there had 
been some background noise: the 
ticking of a clock, the rumble of a 
dishwasher. But there was no sound 
in the room at all; it was a mark ot 
how simply the Morriseys lived. And 
simply, they had to sit in the tumult 
ot noise Nigel was making and en- 
dure it, unadulterate. Then Nigel 
stood and shook himself like a wet 
dog. He walked up the stairs, sayin.g 
goodnight to no one. 

"Oh God," Helen said after she'd 
heard his door close. "I behaved like 
a fool. The poor, poor desperate 
creature. He's dying and he has not 
one real human connection. And I 
made it worse." 

"No, Helen," Richard said. 

"Well, 1 didn't make it better." 

"That's as may be," he said. "But 
you didn't make it worse, and there's 
a difference." 

"And you did make it better — 
both of you," Lavinia said. "He feels 
less alone here. Less as though life 
were ridiculous, or hopeless, or ab- 
surd. You make everyone feel that." 

"Well, we could all use a rest," 
Richard said, pointing the way up 
the staircase, which Nigel 
had climbed in the dark. 


favinia couldn't sleep. There 
was a full moon and the musHn cur- 
tains didn't keep it out. It made a 
pool of not quite light — but illumi- 
nation — on the oak tLiorboards. She 
thought ot all the people who'd slept 
in this room before her, most of 
them long dead. And Nigel was fac- 
ing death alone. What was it like to 
him.' Was he looking down a long, 
dark corridor.' A well.' Or into an 
endless sky? She wondered if he was 
terrified t>r numbed. She wondered 
what it would be like for her. 


It would be different. She would 
have her children, her friends, stu- 
dents whose lives she'd touched. It 
wouldn't be what it was for Nigel: that 
horrible aloneness, that sense that 
you'd been given a life, that it was be- 
ing taken from you and you'd done 
iiothing with it but make a mess. 

She was thinking of him so in- 
tensely that she wasn't surprised 
when she saw the knob turn and the 
door open. He stood in the doorway, 
framed by the light from the hall. 

"Do you mind'" he said. 

"No, not at all." 

He walked directly to the bed and 
sat down on it. She propped herself 
up on her elbow. He kissed her; his 
mouth was rough from cigarettes and 
wine. His hair was a little unclean, 
and she could smell his armpits, not 
dirty, exactly, but unfresh. None of 
that mattered. He was alone and he 
was dying. She could give him this, if 
this was what he wanted. They both 
knew that it could be his last time. 

He nuzzled her breasts halflieart- 
edly. He knew what he was after. He 
didn't make much attempt to arouse 
her, they both knew it wasn't about 
that. He finished, and lay on top of 
her a few moments. Then he said, 
"At moments like these, I need a 
cigarette. Do you mind if I turn on 
the light.'" 

She put on her nightgown and 
looked around for an ashtray, but of 
course there wasn't one. 

"It's all right, I'll flick it out the 

"Careful," she said. "We don't 
want to wake Richard and Helen." 

"What's the matter? You don't 
want them to know what you've 
been up to?" 

"No, I don't want to disturb their 

"What do you think they'd say? 
That you were a nasty girl or an an- 
gel of mercy? Jezebel or Florence 

"There's ni) need to be unpleas- 

"1 don't do it out oi need. 1 just 
.seem to be rather good at it. Which 
is why 1 find myself alone most of 
the time." 

He was challenging her to meet 
his eye, but she wouldn't. 

"It's reniarkable how many friends 


a death sentence brings you. Foi|n- 
stance, yourself. You'd never Hve 
let me have you if you didn't thijtil 
was on my way to never-never lail. 

"That's not true." | 

He snorted. "Oh, get off it. Yiiie 
not going tii tell me you're fon,^pt 
me, or that you found me stranjily 
irresistible. You fucked me beca' 
you think I'm going to die." 

"Nigel, there's no need for thi 

"You're feeling quite good all 
the whole thing," he said. "You ^1 
generous and mature, and wom;- 
You gave of yourself. The supri 
sacrifice. Like wartime. Give hii a 
little of what he fancies before *;ie 
artillery gets him. But suppose 1 jM 
you it was all bullshit? Suppose 1 jJd 
you the biopsy report came back fid 
I was given a clean bill of health? 

"I don't believe you," she said. 

"Oh, my dear, it's quite true. 1 
have a tumor. You see here 
took her hand and made her fee 
indentation in his thigh, "iie 
quacks said it was quite possibly jS- 
lignant. Well, I was scared at t 
and I fell apart, rather. Arid I 
people. 1 thought, why the hell 
And people were woiuierful. I mtjA, 
fuckiiig heroic. Better to me tin 
they'd ever been. And of cone 
whose parental bosom did 1 wan to 
rest my head on but good old Ht^^ 
and Dick's? Normally, I wouk.'t 
have had the nerve to invite myjjtt 
But I called up, told them the nil 
calmly, like a good soldier. So ti^ 
said, of course, dear, come right iifet 
on the fucking car ferry. Only |9t 
before I left, the doctor called. Qm 
thrilled. Benign, old chap, he sdl. 
Apparently I'll live forever. i 

"Well, I couldn't tell Helen id 
Richard that. Think how disappo t- 
ed they'd be. Dying, I had a cer'ln 
tragic interest. Healthy, I'm ju.a 
pathetic pain in the ass. And tbik 
how they've always loved being le 
still, clear pond for the world's hie 
ducks. Why, they wouldn't krw 
what to do with themselves if eviy- 
one's life was shipshape. They nst 
know it. Certainly you know it. Sil 
they are a couple ot old dears, /id 
not as young as they once wte. 
Which is why I know you'll keep if 
dirty little secret. Won't you, love 

He reached over to kiss her. 



I "You're disgusting," she said. 

I'That's as may be, hut I've just 

j ked you, haven't I?" 

I i'Get out," she said. 

;1 'Right you are. And I'll clear out 

iche morning. Everyone will under- 

;lid that I'm abashed after my little 

eping fit last night. And I'll let 
them know you were a real 

M help. A great comfort." 


he wanted to go to the hath- 
im to brush her teeth. His foulness 
s in her mouth. But she didn't 
nt him to hear her doing it. 
She wondered if it were possible 
make him believe that the whole 
ng meant nothing to her — that 
; went to bed with anyone, ab- 
utely everyone, because it was eas- 
than saying no. But she had no 
a how she would do that. 
He wasn't stupid. He seemed to 
derstand things very well. He'd 
;n made her see the Morriseys in a 
y she must always have known 
|5 possible but had always avoided, 
ere they parasites, feeding off the 
sery of others for their own pros- 
■ity? Was the misfortune of those 
;y called their friends the elixir 
It kept them safe ? That kept them 
m the kinds of risks that could 
tort or wreck a life? The kinds of 
ks she'd taken, and her parents 
i, and Nigel and his wife and his 
e's girlfriend? But not the Mor- 
;ys. And not their children. 
She'd have to stay a couple of 
we days so it wouldn't appear that 
Ir leaving had to do with Nigel's, 
^rhaps the day after tomorrow 
;y'd all go to Coole Park. She'd 
;e them out to a good restaurant, 
ley'd talk about Nigel, the pity of 
the waste. They would say she 
ist come back to Bishop's House 
»n soon. Perhaps next summer. 
But she wouldn't. She couldn't 
w. And when the Morriseys came 
;k to New York, what would hap- 
ti then? They were getting older. 
ley'd be needing help. But there 
luld be hundreds of people who'd 
nt to help them, grateful, eager 
3ple. They wouldn't need her. 
After a while they might say, "We 
ven't heard much of Lavinia late- 

They'd assume it was because 
i was happy. ■ 


Down and Out in 
Corporate America 

by G. J. Meyer 

"Executive Blues is brilliant, original, 
and raging." — Fortune 

"The haunting bitter soimd of the jobless 
blues, sung by an ex-corporate executive. The 
disdain of" the big boys tor their own, sudden- 
ly redundant, is as corrosive as their contempt 
for Joe Six-Pack. An astonishing work." 
— Studs Terkel 



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M E M O I R 


Nude scientists, giant sharks, 

bad vibes, and me 

B}; Ptolemy Tompkins 


. n the summer oi 
1975, when I was 
thirteen, I lived for a 
brief period with my 
father and stepmoth- 
er on Bimini, a small 
Bahamian island fifty 
miles off the coast of 
Florida. My father 
was engaged at the 
time in investigating 
a group of giant 
stones that lay in the 
shallow water several 
hundred yards off 
Bimini's northern 
shore. It was his fond 
and earnest hope 
that these stones 
might prove to he 
the vestiges of the lost continent of 
Atlantis and that they were but the 
first of many such ruins to emerge 
from the sea after being hidden for 
some 10,000 years. Atlantis, my fa- 
ther suspected, was on the rise and 
would soon be back tor all to see. 

Four years before our move to 
Bimini, he had finished work on 

Ptolemy Tompkins is the author of Tins 
Tree Grows Our of Hell: Mesoamerit;i 
and the Search for the Magical Body. His 
memoir, Paradise Fever: Dispatche> from 
the Dawn of the New Aljc, will he jmh- 
lished by Avon Books this jail. 



Secrets of the Great Pyramid, a hook 
arguing that the ancient Egyptians 
possessed a body of wisdom about 
the universe and the place of human 
beings within it that far surpassed 
anything the modern world had to 
offer. Two years later, with his 
friend Christopher Bird, he pro- 
duced The Secret Life of Plants, 
which made the claim that plants 
were conscious beings capable of 
communicating and communing 
with hmnans. Plants were such spiri- 
tually evolved organisms, my fa- 
ther's research suggested, that if we 

listened to them 
tentively they cc 
teach us how to 
more happily and 
moniously on Eart 
so harmoniously 
fact, that the pla 
could be transforn 
in my father's wo 
into "a new Eden." 
By the mid-19 
my father had becc 
a kind of walking, t 
ing concatenatior 
the sort of ideas t 
today go under 
general umbrella 
"new age." Beard 
bald, with a perpetu 
intense, preoccup 
expression (as a young child I suspc 
ed that he must have lost his 1: 
from thinking too much), he was 
appearance and character perfec 
suited for this role. Without much 
the way of conscious calculation, 
instead just by being himself, he 
came the definitive example of 
Fringe Investigator: the familiar figi 
with the whitening beard, khaki bi 
jacket, and unfazable open mind w 
was forever lurking on the outer ed 
of accepted science and conventioi 
thinking. From Peter Tompkins y 
could always count on learning tl 

Illu>.tr,ition h\ Lnu Be 


: impossible wasn't really impossi- 

I at all, and that your not having 

;n alerted to this fact was due pure- 

to the untiring efforts ot the self- 

iving charlatans in the academic 

mmunity who were working over- 

ie to keep you in the dark. He was 

); one to tell you that ancient astro- 

uts may have once visited Earth; 

It psychic surgeons might cure your 

)perable cancer; that the ancient 

yptians possessed magical tech- 

iques for levitating 2,000'pound 

;ks, and that you yourself might 

;n have been one of those Egyptian 

iigicians in a previous incarnation. 

■From David Suskind to Mike 

.)Uglas to Dick Cavett, my father 

entually made it on to almost all 

E talk shows of the time, usually in 

e company of a representative of 

s scientific community with whom 

i was expected to fall into passion- 

; and vitriolic disagreement. The 

indard sequence of events would 

: for the host to introduce my fa- 

:oi er and then stand back while he 

1 ;red his eyebrows menacingly and 

iJtscribed whatever unusual phe- 

tl imena he had been investigating 

at week. In the appearances imme- 

ai ately following the publication of 

e plant book, a table full of plants 

juld usually appear at this point, 

le of them attached to a gal- 

nometer — a lie-detecting device 

'at my father's friend Cleve Back- 

tij ;r had found could register what 

•peared to be the emotional reac- 

tljons of plants as well as humans. 

ae plants would then be threat- 

led with uprooting or burning, and 

.e TV cameras would zoom in on 

e galvanometer's wildly fluctuating 

als. Einally, a suitably dour scien- 

it would emerge, and he and my fa- 

>er would square off like a pair of 

ghting cocks in a Mexican bar, 

ading accusations for however 

uch airtime remained to be filled. 

My father brought a unique inten- 

:y to the ideas he explored in those 

:ars. When he argued that the an- 

ents had lived in an expanded state 

harmony and integration, the way 

ick into which was open to all if 

ley would but listen to the whisper- 

r. '.gs of the very plants they ate and 

alked upon, the urgency tif his con- 

l ction incited as much aelmiration 

as the message itself. For my father it 
was not enough to simply believe in 
or publicize such possibilities. One 
needed, most of all, to act. 

That was why, at the beginning of 
the summer of 1975, I found myself 
on Bimini. My father had long held 
an interest in Atlantis because ot the 
emphasis placed on it in the work ot 
Rudolf Steiner, the remarkable 
teacher and philosopher who found- 
ed the Anthroposophical movement 
and the Waldorf schools in Germany 
during the early decades of this cen- 
tury. Through his clairvoyant read- 
ing of history, Steiner claimed to 
have witnessed the unfolding of At- 
lantean civilization over the course 
of thousands of years, as well as the 
gradual birth of our own civilization 
from out ot its ruins. The notion that 
a part of Atlantis lay in the Ba- 
hamas, however, had come not from 
Steiner but from another Atlantean 
clairvoyant named Edgar Cayce — 
the famous "sleeping prophet." A 
mild-mannered Midwesterner who 
began his life as a stationery sales- 
man and Sunday-school teacher, 
Cayce gained an enormous following 
as a result of his ability to diagnose 
and cure illnesses while in a state of 
trance. In the course of these diag- 
noses, Cayce was given to making 
lengthy asides on other topics, many 
of which took the waking, everyday 
Cayce quite aback when he heard 
about them later. A good number ot 
these strange asides concerned At- 
lantis. It was the entranced Cayce's 
opinion that the lost continent 
would re-emerge in the late twenti- 
eth century from the depths of tfie 
Atlantic, where it had lain since its 
submergence in a great cataclysm 
that occurred some 10,000 years ago. 
In a trance statement made in 1940, 
he went so far as to specify 1968 or 
'69 as the year when the first frag- 
ments would 'negin to appear. 

The Bimini Road, as the collec- 
tion of sunken stones my father had 
come to investigate was called, diiJ 
nt)t dramatically rise up out of the 
ocean depths in 1968, hut that was 
the year it first came to public no- 
tice, and this coincidence struck my 
father as impressive enough to call 
for action. Loaded down with in- 
come from The Sccrcl Life oj Plants 

and enticed by the idea ot proving 
the legitimacy of Cayce's prophetic 
work to the nay-saying scientific 
community, he had organized this 
expedition in the hopes of producing 
a film about the Road that would ei- 
ther establish or demolish its claim 
to Atlantean origin once 


and for all. 

.he Bimini Road stretches for al- 
most 2,000 feet along the sandy 
ocean bottom, roughly paralleling 
the shore of North Bimini. At the 
northern end, the stones curve 
aroimd to form the shape of a rough 
backward J, then appear to stop as 
abruptly as they began. Leading 
nowhere, and made up of stones far 
too big and widely spaced for any ve- 
hicle — ancient or modern — to make 
use of, the Road isn't really a road at 
all. Nor, according to the views of 
most of the geologists who had ex- 
amined it prior to our trip, was it a 
wall, a sunken boat harbor, an an- 
cient temple to some forgotten god, 
or any other such romantic item. It 
was simply a length of soft, porous 
stone that time and chance had 
eroded in such a way that it gave the 
illusion of having been shaped by 
human hands. 

Many things to many people, the 
Road was to nae one thing above all 
others: boring. Try as I might, 1 could 
not conjure up, nor could 1 under- 
stand, the kind ot anguish and enthu- 
siasm that my father and his friends 
seemed to suffer over it. Swimming 
above this huge trail of squarish boul- 
ders with the other divers, 1 never 
tailed to iind them somehow uiiin- 
spired, and 1 could not help but think 
that our time in the Bahamas would 
be better spent doing something — 
anything — else. Yet day after day all 
such possibilities went uninvestigated 
as we languished, anchored over the 
Road in a sixty-foot sailboat char- 
tered tor the adventure, while my fa- 
ther and the rest ot his friends tin- 
kered endlessly around its edges with 
their cameras and instruments. 

My failure to appreciate the Road 
was mirrored by a similar lack of en- 
thusiasm for other aspects of my fa- 
ther's world. It seemed that the more 
public his life became, the more re- 
moved 1 found myself becoming from 


ir. T^ilkin^i plants, lust ci\ili;aiioiis — 
the whole i^aimit ot his intorosts, 
which cmikl aK\ays he eouiiti.\l on to 
inspire ex'eiythinL; from fascination 
to Jistlam to outright anyer in oth- 
ers — left ine detenninedlv immowvl. 
it was not 1 Jkln't a^lmire my fa- 
ther, or that 1 necessarily questioned 
his siranL;lehi>Ll on the mysteries of 
I he universe, it was 


liist that I didn't care 

hen," my father asked 
"gruffly one morning; up on the how, 
"are we ^'-'''''t^ ''' "*-'' V'^' ^'^'t ^'' those 
abomiiiahle trunks'" 

Today, as e\ery day, 1 was clothei.1 
in a T'sliiri and halhin); suit, whicii 
separated me from the majority ot 
the ai.lults, who, other than the occa- 
sional pair of sneakers or sun hat, 
wore nothini^. In front of the cam- 
eras, behind ihem, or somewiiere in 
between, if you were in\ol\'ed in the 
Atlantis priiject and wearing cKith- 
in^, my father woukl eventually have 
something to say about it. Nudity 
was not so niuch an optiiin in my fa- 
ther's mind as a bad^e of honor: a 
si^n, as it were, that you were on the 
Atlantis team. 

This persistent presence of naked 
human bodies — youn^ ani,l old, male 
and female, tonei.1 and worn — had a 
less than totally positix'e effect on 
me. As the summer wore on, 1 found 
myself in the odd position of feelmi; 
envit)us of my friends back at school, 
for wluHii female bodies were items 
ot supreme myster\ rather than 
everyday scenery. Heprix'ed ot ihis 
romantic distaiue, the human 
form — more specifically the female 
human form — was t.ikinj^ on a dis- 
tressiiiLily muni.lane .iiira tor me 
while at the same time re!ainin'_; ils 
intense adolescent desir.ibihtv- All 
the \ariously shaped breasts and dis- 
tressiiif^ly concrete j^enitalia 1 was 
torceel to maneuver amoni; out on 
the each d,iy were turning into 
false idols: ob|ects 1 w:is ;it oiue 
drawn helplessly tow;nd yi.-t ;il tlu' 
s;ime time distrustful ot. I fountl this 
combin;irion of elements deejilv irri- 
taliiiL:, not to mention confusiiiL:, 
;ind 1 responded by aftectini; :i mood 
ot tot;il — it t;ilse — i.lisret:;;ird lor :ill of 
It. 1 made :i i^omt of beiiiL; clothed as 
much ;is possible aiul loiiked with in- 

7S I lARI'hR'S M.-\( ;A/INh / |.\Nl '.XRY 1 w? 

creasing disdain ui^on the Atlantis 
hunters with v\hom, it seemed, 1 was 
destined to spend my entire summer. 

My father, in his distracted fash- 
ion, was monitorinj^ my behax'ior 
and trying to tatl"H)m it. Somehow it 
w;is beyond his comprehcnsit)n that 
a thirteen-year-okl boy should insist 
on remaining clothed all the time 
while on a boat in the middle ot the 
Caribbean. Like just about every- 
thin;,' else he tr;iined his attention 
on tor lonji enough, this iipparent 
(.lisinterest had cert;iin implications 
in his eyes. By rctusin^j; to parade 
around naked at odd and inconve- 
nient times, and by looking askance 
at those who ilid, 1 was dt)it"i)i; more 
th;in just beiny (.litficult. 1 was plac- 
ing myself in the ciimpany ot the 
naysayers, the advcKates of the mun- 
ilane ;ind the on.linary, who wanted 
to prove that the Riiad was no road 
at all but simply a meaningless geo- 
logical accident. 

"You guys look like idiots ruiming 
around naked the way you do," 1 tiild 
him. "Besides, it's (.langcrous." 

My father slmok his head bemus- 
edly. "Dangerous! What an absolute- 
ly ridiculous idea. I suspect it's that 
schttol we spend so much money on 
that feeds you these curious puritani- 
cal notions. We'll have to h;ive you 
deprogrammed by the time you're 
re;idy to gradu;ite." 

"1 suppose yi)u think the At- 
lanteans all walked around naked.'" 

"That has :ibsolutely nothing to 
(.lo with it, nothing ;it ;ill." 

lie pausei.1 tor a moment and 
glowered back down at the stern of 
the boat, his assorted worries visibly 
regaining their hold over him. Then, 
collecting himselt ;is if he were about 
to address some gre:iter audience, he 
turned back to me. 

"Po y(Hi know what ;dl this is real- 
ly ;ibout.'" 

"All what.' This bo;it ;ind every- 

"Yes, this bo;)t and everything." 


"It's about freedom. The freedom 
to di) :is you like when you like ;ind 
not get suckei.1 into some lu^tificial 
system of Liws th:it tell you wh;it to 
Ail ,nul not to ^lo. Th;it's why 
I'm here looking at this tlamn Road, 
aiul that's why I've chartered this 


bloody boat, and that's why I'm h-a- 
t)rrhaging money keeping ;\11 tlise 
machines running." 

"I don't get it," 1 said. "1 mc'n, -^^ 
what i.loes being naked have tollb 
with the Road.'" 

"It has everything to do with 
Road," my father pronounced \ 
satisfaction. "The academic est 
lishment says Atlantis never exi; 
when there's plenty of solid evide 
that says it did. Now, just why 
the face of this evidence, sho 
they be so intent on denying its e 
tence outright.'" 

"1 don't know. Maybe they _ 
don't teel like believing in it." 

"if they had the honesty to give 
answer like that, I'd have a good ( 
iimre sympathy for them. In f: 
you've hit the nail on the head. T 
don't feel like believing in it. Nc 
all. And the reason they don't is 
cause believing in it would fo 
them to rewrite every last on 
their history books from Chap 
One tm, and that is something t 
very definitely do not want to do 
rather than open themselves to 
possibility that they don't re; 
know wh;ir was going on ten 
twenty or perhaps fifty thousi 
years ago on this planet, they sin 
close their ears and their eyes and 
'Bullshit' at all the evidence th 
presented without looking at 
They're no different from a bund 
demented schoolmasters at s 
wretched Dickensian parocb 
school, telling you the way things 
and whipping you it yc^u point ou 
them that they aren't that way at 
If there's one thing I'd be happy t 
you took away trtim being around!* l 
all this crazy stuff it's the importa!;e n 
ot that — ot being free to say andte re 
what you think, regardless of Mki 
consec]uences and even if everybJft m 
tells you you're out of your mind." ' f 

It was rare tor my father to help .f 
on the IxHV, where not much in l|| jt 
way ot work went on. When he !k: py 
the cluttered stern, it was usuallyn -J 
order to avoid something, and toiy \ 
that something was the Remora. 'le 'i, 
most costly arid sophisticated of tt' -j 
many technical devices enlisted^'Ji. 
chronicle the Ro:id, the Remora 'p\ 
a sort ot giant winged torpedo witati, 
camera at its front end. It was ft'ti^f 




ainchild of Dimitri Rebikoff, a 
;nch inventor and fellow Atlantis 
hthusiast, who had come along 
th it down to Bimini. Presumably, 
s sophisticated camera it housed 
[luld allow the divers to capture the 
lad on film more successfully than 

t indheld cameras would, but the 

St ore important, unspoken reason for 

E k Remora's presence was the high- 
h. mystique it lent the enteiprise. 
Lthered to the surface by a power 
ble, it glided impressively to and 

ie ; above the Road like a great me- 
anical fish, with divers clinging to 
flanks. Or at least it did on the 
lys when it worked. On this partic- 
ix day, however, it was paralyzed 
some failure deep in its mechani- 
1 insides and lay on the stern 

Ti[.udst a mass of cables like a great 
tptured sea beast, with Rebikoff 
d several of his assistants hovering 
er it. My father, apparently unable 
en to look at the repair process 
ithout losing his temper, gazed poi- 
nously out to sea. 

Nothing makes a mockery of hu- 
! im endeavor like the ocean. All 
3und us, beyond the noise of the 
at and the people on it, the sea 
d sky lay spread out with what 
MTied a deep and resolved indiffer- 
ce to the entire project. Beneath 

tk I the blurry white Road lay with 
iual tranquillity, unconcerned with 
e buzzing engines and laboring 

i: iople, unconcerned with whether 
e Remora would be fixed or 
aether its own true origin was At- 
atean or otherwise. 
~"So what are you going to do if it 

iji^ns out the Road is just a bunch of 
^ularold rocks?" 

'"Then I will have laid the ques- 
m to rest, and that will he the end 
it. Because whatever that Road 
rns out to be, it doesn't take away 
.e bit from what 1 just told you. 
ne one important thing in life is 
iving the freedom to find out 
lat's bullshit and what's true and 
il, and to go after the true and the 
d with all of your energy, if you 

1,1 n't have that, there's not much 
int going and looking for any- 
ing else." 
'So how come I'm not free to 

i(ii! :ar a bathing suit without you hug- 
"igmc about ir all the time.'" 



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Nnte: Anagrams arc indicated u'ith an 

cMerisk (*). 

ACROSS: 12. *; 13. *; 16. unke(M.)pt; 
18. homonym; 19. ro(o)d; 20. r(i)ot; 
22. r.(necded*)d.; 23. pa's-s(ecretary); 
27. *; 30. lai(man)e; 32. gen-ll; 34. *; 
36. ■ ; 37. to-l(raqis)-let. LX^WN: 7. *; 
8. (ir-J(ivesrit)ure; 9. l(i)ncs*-(>n; 10, 
*; 1 1. *; 14. Rue-R; IS. scree(n); 21. *; 
25. *; 26. (l-l'd-HCV; 28. am-Lip (rev.); 
29. *; 30. hidden; M . rc:il*-t(ake); 35. 

SOLUTR")N TC^ PECEMBER 1996 DOUBLE ACROSTIC: (NO. 168). Jonathan swift: a 

( KITK AL E.SSAY (UIKIN THE FACULTIES OF THE MINP). How can the . . . Opinion be tnie, that the 
Llnivcrsf was formed by a fortuitiius ConcuLirse of Atoni.s, which 1 will no mure believe, than 
ihal tlie accidenr:il Juniblinj,' of the Letters in the Alphabet, (.mikl fall by Chance into a must in- 
ycniciis . . .Tre:irise of Philosophy. 

CONTE.ST RULES: Send the (.|U()t:uion, the name of the aiiihdr, anil ilie title of the work, to- 
(,;ether with your n;inie and ;iddress, to Double Acrostic No. I()9, f^ar|)('r's Magazine, 666 Broad- 
way, New York, N.Y. 10012. If you ;ilready suKscrihc to Harper's, please include a copy of your 
hitesi m;iilin}4 label. Entries must be received hy January 8. Senders of the first three correct solu- 
tions opened at random will receive one-ye:ir suhscriptions to Harper's Magazine. The solution 
will be printed in the February issue. Winners oi the November 1996 LOouble Acrostic (No. 167) 
arc Suzanne Cule, Miami, Florida; C;ilherine, Silver Spring;, Maryland; and Joan M. Thi- 
bodeau, 1 )apiels(in, CJonnecticut. 

"\\iu i.,in wcir ,1 s|i,K(.' suit ;inJ ;i 
lidwU'T hill lii|- ,:ll 1 care, as Kmi^ as 
you'rt.- diiiiiL; wlial \tui want — wli.ii 
ymi really \vanl, aiul iiol wlial muih' 
JiastarJ in soiiu- msiiiutiDn tells yon 
yiHi shmiKl." 

"AnJ llial means I'm tn-e lo ,m> 
Jeep-sea tisliinu on one ot those 
charter hoats ioo, rij^lit .'" 

"That," s.iiJ my lather, "is a mat- 
ter not ol IreeJom hut ol moiiey, and 
it I weren't niiiiunL; luit ot rite latter 
taster than 1 caii helie\e, I'l-I rent you 
one ol tliose hoats tomorrow." 

"So money's Jitterent trom tree- 
Jom, huh.'" 

"kleally, yes," saitl my father, the 

specter i>t cash Jampenin^ his iiuhkI 

slit^hlly, "hut jMaclically, 


'uuini IS actually two islands set 
extriMiu'h' close together. The threat 
tnajority ot the population lives on 
North Bimini, aiii.l it was here that 
m\' lather haJ estahhshed himsell, 
my stepmother, ;ii\J me, on the sec- 
ond tloor ol a deluiKt hotel at the 
southern tip ot tin- island. Wind- 
picked and wasted, the place hai.1 
heen out ol use lor some years h\ tlu' 
time we nuned in. The water still 
ran, more or less, and the ijlass i.loors 
that oiH'iied onto its sunhaked 
PoilIus still rolled in their tracks. 
But i.\(,'r\thinL; else — trom the em|M\' 
pool with cracked and tadei.1 paint- 
int^s ot fish ,uul merm.iids runniiiL; 
across its lloor to the deserti.'d th.itch 
hooth where diinks lor loun^iiiL; 
sw immeis oikc were m.ule seemed 
,is il it had heen out ol commission 
lor a \er\' Iodl; tune indei.'d. SikIi 
was the i|ualit\' ot ple.isant, timeless 
exh.uistion h.ini.;in'_; ahout the place 
that It eas\ to ima,L;uu' ih.ii it it 
sell, .11 soiiK' hriLjht and point 
111 the p.isi, made n|^ .1 sector ot 
the l.ihled lost continent. 

1x'\>iik1 iIh' hoii'l, \ isihle Irom tin- 
wini.lows ol our rooms, ihe ch,ilk\ 
tiimhstt)nes ol a i.eiiu-ter\ pitched 
this w.iv .ind that in the soli iskiiul 
soil, the ground hetwecn them 
tered with i.ocoiuits .uul Ion'.;, stiti 
lionds Irom the p.ilms ih.u i.utled 
hiL;h o\erhe,id in the <.'\er preseni 
winil. P. 1st I hi- i.emeter\' a white s.iiul led out to a knitin^, ilcscateJ 
stretch ol kind, its wx-st side KirminL; 

a gentle heach, its east held sharjily 
in place hy a concrete sea wall. It wa.s 
the joh ot this wall, worn and .soft- 
ened hy wind and sand and sunlight, 
to ki'e|i ,1 steady channel ot deep wa- 
ter llowaiiL; here, where North and 
South Bimini came closest. 

For unknown reason.s, thi.s heaiiti- 
tul stretch ot land served as the island 
iliimp. Bleach hotlles, hlack hanana 
peels, and mountain after mountain 
ot pink and white conch shells — 
their inhahitaiits lon^ .since 
wrencheil triim fhein and cooked in- 
to tritier.s or chowder — ininj^led in 
loose formations amon^ the sand and 
heach t^rass. Here and there a larger 
piece, like a toilet or an auto engine, 
lay like a fallen satellite. Out in the 
water other masses o\ wreckage were 
dimly, sinisterly \asihle. C^ne after- 
noon, sitting on the sun-warmed 
ci)ncrt.-te, my tishini; line adrift he- 
neat h me, I v\as surprised to sec an 
entire siifa, complete with cushions, 
float hy half-suhmetKed. 

There was not much to do on 
Bimini, especially it lUie was too 
yount; for the endless hars that, 
alon)4 with fishinK-tackle shops, 
made up most ot the island's main 
drai:. On those clays when no lx)at 
trips out to the Road were sched- 
uled, or when I just needed a hreak 
from the weighty and stressful at- 
mos]ihere that was such a perennial 
l^art ot my father's quest, 1 would 
head out to the sea wall with a thin 
inlon line, stime hooks, and ,i ha^^ie 
ol thickeii L;i::ards. that summer, 
amonu other things, was the summer 
ot jaws, when hoys my aij;e across 
.America were initi.ited hy the thou- 
sands into the cult ol the man-i-atinL; 
shark. .'Mthouuh the tish 1 i.,ui^ht 
luit h\ the se,i wall were seldom hii;- 
uei th.m a penknife, images ol pri- 
mordial, suhm,irme-si:e monsters 
drilled throui^h m\' hrain ,is 1 hauh'd 
them up, (..iielulh lemoxed the tun 
hook Irom tluii mouths, ,ind tossed 
them hack. 

When 1 huvitif^ lishinL; ,L;ear, 
iu\ ew would often drift down to the 
otlu'i end o\ the ^lass- topped display 
l.ihles where iiiammoth ^ray hooks 
I i\ w ith their chain leatlers coiled he- 
side them. Sinnethint; in the hiittom 
ol m\ stoiiKich would tall away as 1 
considered the f.ict that someone 

somewhere actually haited th 

hooks and tlroppeil them into the i 

ter. I imagined that a hook .st) absi 

ly large must have a sort of magi 

attractive power, and that one wo 

ha\e to he possessed of either extrs 

dinary hravery or extraordinary fi 

hardiness to put that iJ 
1 , I ., _► 


chanted jiower tt) use. 


lU' niuht at 
heard Noices. 

"Liioks like someone's here ahi 
of us." 

Two men, carrying six-packs i 
snn)kinK cigarettes that hrighte 
and faded in the shifting night 
emerged out of the darkness. 

"How's it going, partner," 
shorter and less athletic-looking 
the two said. "Naine's Scott. Do 
from .'\tlanta. That line's a lit 
thin tor sharks, isn't it? 

"I'm not fishiiig for sharks, 
stammered. "I don't know how." 

"Nothing to it," said his frie 
"All you gotta do is drop the ri| 
kind ot line. CSuy at the Angler 
told us sharks cruise here at nig 
You might have some luck if you 
the right rig." 

"1 la\e you ever caught any.'" 

"Yup. Phil caught five last year.' 

"What kind.'" 

"Three hlack tips, a lemon, am 
hull I think it was. One of the bl; 
tips had a heer can in his helly." 

"What kind of beer.'" 


"Was It lull.'" 


"Wow," I said, digesting all t 
inform, It ion as coolly as possible. 

"I low long you here for, ki( 
Scott asked. 

"1 don't know. A month. May 

"Yeah.' Shit. Cuit yourself SO 
rich ]\irents, 1 guess." 

"Nor really rich, 1 don't think. 1 
father's looking for Atlantis." 

Phil's eyes lit up. "No way. L 
lost Atlantis.'"' 


"1 le iiuisi he looking at the Roa 
Phil ga\e the last ot his cigarette li 
accomplished flick, sending it farci 
into the ch.tnnel, then took a lonp 
look ,11 me. "Your father thinks 
lor real, huh'" 


II \Kri r>m,\i;a/i\i- ianuary i^w; 

'He doesn't know. He wants to 
J out, though. He's hke a seeker 
i:he unexplained or something. He 
ented that thing about talking to 
ir plants." 

Oh, man. Your father's the plant 

: ? I guess he doesn't do any fishing 

tin. What kind of boat you have?" 

fA sailboat, and I can't fish from 

necause the line always gets tan- 

d in the keel and everyone gets 

d at me. I asked if we could go 

(i.p-sea fishing, but my father says 

osts too much." 

lYour father has a point," said 
^':)tt. "Unless, that is, you happen 
|;have a boat of your own. A fish- 
i boat." 

11 Like we do," said Phil. 
Tell you what, kid," said Scott, 
ly after tomorrow we're having a 
je take us to a spot off Cat Cay. 
: guaranteed us we'll catch some- 
pg. Seeing as you're such a dedi- 
ed sportsman, it seems like a 
me for you to miss it. Maybe you 
'. come along ... if your pop's all 
It with it." 

Sure," said Phil. "We can 
always use another steady 


'm going shark fishing tomor- 
V," I told my father the next 
rning, as much to hear how the 
'ds sounded out in the air as any- 
ig else, tor of course there was no 
stion of my not being permitted 
go. "1 met these guys on the sea 
1 last night, and they're going to 
e me with them on their boat." 
(Shark fishing," my father said, his 
on the Remora as it moved past 
3ut in the water. "Now, there's a 
gar way of spending one's time! 
ly on earth would you want to go 
1 harass some glorious beast by 
gging it up on the end of a rope I 
u're free to do as you like, of 
rse, but keep in mind that there 
consequences to actions. Every- 
ag produces results in life, you 
)w — everything. Do you know 
at they found wrong with the 
nora the other day?" 

Nothing! Not a bloody thing, 
likoff tells me he can't figure out 
/ it wasn't functioning, and now 
coasting along without a hitch! 

Now, how do you suppose that could 
be. Any ideas?" 


"Then I'll tell you. Vibes!" 


"Yes, vibes. There's been a lot of 
negative thought-energy on this 
project in the last several days, and 
the machines have been picking up 
on it. What you have to understand 
is that everything in lite — absolutely 
everything — is alive and reacts to 
what you think about it." 

"Then how come I can't make 
stuff do what I want just by thinking, 
like on 1 Dream of Jearmie or some- 

"What the hell is / Dream of Jean- 
nie ?" 

"It's a TV show where this genie 
makes stuff disappear or move 
around just by thinking about it." 

"Hmm. Well, it you really put 
your mind to it you could. Rudolf 
Steiner says the Atlanteans started 
out with a kind of thought-energy 
that could affect the environment, 
and that the misuse of that energy 
was what ultimately brought them to 
an end." 

"You mean they thought the 
wrong kind of thoughts?" 

"They did indeed. And their psy- 
chic abilities were so advanced in 
comparison to ours that those nega- 
tive thoughts actually had the capa- 
bility to alter their environment — to 
destroy their entire world, in fact." 

The Remora, with two divers 
clinging to its sides and its dark pow- 
er cable trailing behind it, coasted 
silently past us once more, bubbles 
popping to the surface in its wake. 

"So maybe we're lucky we can't dc' 
that anymore." 

"Do what?" my father said, his 
eyes on the Remora. 

"Make things happen just by 

"That's just my pt)int. Don't be so 
sure that we can't. We may not live 
in Atlantis anymore, hut we still 
live in a world v/here actions have 
consequences. And thoughts are 
actions. You mark my 



he next morning, with a sand- 
wich, an orange, and two bottles of 
red wine that my father had sent 

along as a gift slung over my shoul- 
der, I arrived at the specified dock an 
hour earlier than scheduled. Scott's 
boat was smaller than most of the 
other vessels nudging together in the 
calm of the morning. You stepped 
down, rather than up, into it. 

"Disappointed?" Scott called to 
me from the stern, where he was on 
his hands and knees arranging green 
bottles in a deep white tomb of ice. 

"Sharks aren't fancy fish," he said. 
"And it doesn't take a fancy boat to 
catch them. Hey, Bruce! This is our 

Bruce, his long body bent down in 
the small cabin space, craned himself 
around and acknowledged me with a 
nod. 1 recognized him, and the odd 
pink-checkered golfer's cap he wore, 
from here and there on the island. 
Like the boat, he had a slightly 
downscale look to him — a no-trills 
guide ready to tackle the relatively 
simple job of finding some sharks. 

With Scott arranging his bottles 
and Bruce at work in the heart of the 
boat, I sat, then lay, on the night- 
cool wood of the dock. Through a 
space between two planks 1 could see 
down into the shallow water below. 
It was almost as clear as it was out at 
the sea wall, so that the reef fish 
pausing and hurrying about on their 
familiar errands were sharply visible 
among the bottles and corroding 
cans. Looking down at that intimate 
little theater, I soon dozed off, awak- 
ening sometime later to the drum of 
the engine. Phil had arrived, and 
someone had scooped up my meager 
gear and placed it in the boat. 1 got 
to my feet and, as my first officially 
useful action, untied the bowline 
from the dock and jumped aboard. 

Bruce took us out past the proces- 
sion of fishing docks, the unchartered 
boats all crowded inside them like 
cows at a feeding trough. As we 
passed through the narrow inlet, I 
could see the spot where I normally 
sat along the sea wall, which looked 
small and curiously untamiliar. In in- 
crements the landscape beneath us 
fell away, and soon we were cruising 
over the impossible, precipitous dark- 
ness of the Gulf Stream. Over an all 
but invisible reef, the men caught 
their bait fish — seven or eight jack, 
bright and hard in the crystalline air. 


These were rcissed into a wooden 
stern comp.irtmenr, where riiey 
hanged and flapped tor some min- 
utes, the sound clearly audihle o\er 
the Iniin of the engine as we made 
our way out again into deep water. 

Twenty minutes later Bruce cut the 
engine, and we were suddenly alone 
out in the hlue, the k)at washing and 
slapping gentiv in the waves. A jack 
was pLilled from the stern compart- 
ment and whacked ahruptly in half, 
transformed in a mtiment from a fish 
initi two anonymous chunks of hait. 
Roth pieces were lanced through a gi- 
ant hook and hurled over the sterii. A 
nylon line fed gradually out, coil after 
coil, until Bruce at last looped it once 
around a cleat and passed the remain- 
der to Phil, who was to watch and 
wait for signs of pressure. 

Half an hour passeel. 1 starei.1 at 
the cleat, envisioning the baited 
hoi)k drifting in the i^larkness far he- 
low, and suddenly, as if responding 
to my wish, the loop began to tight- 
en. Phil unlooped the line from the 
cleat, and he and Scott stood one 
behind the other in the gently pitch- 
iiig boat, their hands loosely holding 
the line, which continued to teed 
sleepily and steadily out. 

"On three we'll set the hook," 
Bruce commanded. "One . . . two . . ." 

The two men gave a tremendous 
yank, and mimediately the line stiff- 
ened decisively. The hook was set. 
Bruce started up the boat, and Phil 
and Scott began slowly hauling up 
our invisible catch. After a while the 
line no longer pointei-i ^lown but 
slanted almost horizontally into the 
water behind us. 1 followed it with 
my eyes until it \'anished in the slow 
rolling waves. 

Then, fifty yards behiiKJ the stern, a 
fin appeare^l and was gone. When it 
re-cmerged, it cK>se enough so 
that 1 could Llimly make out the shape 
of the body beneath it. Even from a 
distaiice the shark's color was striking: 
nor the dull, steel gray 1 had imagined 
but a warm and vni^l brown. Against 
the sharp blue of the ocean it looked 
shockingly appropriate, as it selected 
with deliberate care by an artist. Dis- 
appearing and reappearing, the shark 
maLle its slow way toward us, tlrawn 
without much protest by the steady 
hauling of the two men. 1 kept waiting 

s: 1 1.ARrtR'S M.-\i;.A/INH / J.ANl ARY u»'; 

for it hi leap up out of the water aiul 
gnash its teeth cinematically, but ihe 
ckwer it got the more it stayed under, 
until at last it was right up beside us, 
its head out in the air and its long 
body trailing down beneath the sur- 
face, completely visible. 

In the impossibly clear water he- 
side the boat, the animal, about six 
or seven feet of it, hung almost verti- 
cally, its tail maintaining this posi- 
tion with slow, fluid strokes. Forced 
into this unnatural posture, it 
seemeJ to be doing the best it coukl 
to maintain some of its dignity. Its 
broad head sank momentarily, then 
once again rose above the surface, 
and 1 could see where the hook 
broke through the cream-pale skin ot 
the lower jaw. 1 found myself 
tremendously impressed by the eerie 
nonchalance with which the shark 
hung there in the water. A huge and 
alien atmosphere of patience seemed 
to emanate from it. 

"Hook's set good," said Bruce. 
"Let's see if we can get a loop around 

In a moment Bruce had formed a 
lasso, and with a long wooden gaff 
he gingerly edged it down iiito the 
water, toward the shark's tail. 

"That's it. Loop's .set tight. Let out 
that other line, we'll take him in to 
the beach." 

With the lines slack, the shark 
sank down for a moment and moved 
off, regaining its horizontal position. 
Bruce pointei.1 the boat toward a 
small island off in the distance, and 
suddenly the beautiful casualness of 
the fish was lost in a blast of noise 
and white water. Flailing and snap- 
ping, it dragged helplessly behind us 
as we headed for shore. 

"That should drown him by the 
time we get there," Bruce shouted 
back from the helm. 

"L~)rown him.'" 1 asked no one in 

"Yeah," said Scott. "All that rush- 
ing water makes it impossible for 
him to breathe right. Still, he'll 
probably have some life left in him 
by the time we get him on land." 

Fifteen minutes later, Bruce guided 
the shallow hull right up onto the 
be.ich ot a small co\e and we all 
hopped (Hit, Phil and Scott grabbing 
the hook line as the shark lolled 


drunkenly in the water behind 
Bruce secured the biiat, and all tl" 
men took hold oi the rope and hat 
the great brown body up onto shor 

"Brown shark," Bruce said lace 
cally, identifying not the color 
the species for us. 

It was an apt enough name, slig 
foolish in its obviousness. Prone 
the sand like a jet taken down fi 
the heavens, the shark glowed wi 
deep, living browii that faded to 
eeiually impre-ssive white beneatl: 
seemed to me that I had never se< 
more perfect, a cleaner animal in 
lite. Its blemishless, velvety skin 
stiff and delicately rounded fins 
conspired to make the animal loo 
it it had come freshly minted fi 
some incredible machine. It loo 
like the Remora, I thought, beac 
on the deck of my father's boat 

While Bruce set to straighter 
an^l coiling the line that ran from 
hook still caught iti the shark's j 
Phil dug his feet sc^uarely into 
sand next to the animal's head 
began to give it a .series iif heavy, 1 
rible, clunking blows with a base 
bat. The shark at first appeared ir 
ferent e\'en to this insult. It con 
lied ro look quintes.sentially, alo 
sharklike, all precision and purf 
and grace. Occasionally a shiver 
pled along its length, its tail swij 
absently hack and forth, creatir 
clean, crescent furrow in the sand 

"Dumb son of a bitch," said F 
"Can't tell if he even feels anythii 

"Are you kidding?" said Sc 
"This thing's primitive. He prob; 
thinks he's still out in the w 

Whether or not the shark wa 
fact under such an illusion, it 
plain enough, after a minute oi 
that Phil's efforts were having S( 
effect. The twitches and the mc 
ments of the tail died down, and 
denly blood, red and bright anc 
miliar-lookiiig, began to flow f 
the gills at both sides of the shi 
head. The blood soon grew rr 
plentiful, and Phil had to step 1 
to avoid having it drench his w 
deck siieakers. 

After all the long commotio) 
the morning, the four of us st 
silently around the body of the 1 
which though now quite obvio 


Ld still seemed all motion and pur- 

e, like an arrow pointing off to a 

)lm of color and life and beauty — a 

realm that we ourselves 

would never find or enter. 

in Atlantean times, wrote Rudolf 
liner, the air was denser than it is 
V. The water, meanwhile, was 
inner, and as a result the At- 
iteans, who received their knowl- 
.e about the world clairvoyantly 
n spiritual sources, were able to 
ve about the earth and exploit its 
ket forces in ways very different 
m those that are known today. 
; Atlanteans understood the forces 
;iature so well that they formed a 
!d of partnership with them. The 
hips that glided through the thick 
i-antean air were powered by life- 
vrgy extracted from plant seeds; the 
lantean cities resembled huge, 
wing gardens, with houses built 
m the interwoven branches of 
ss. It was only when the At- 
steans grew indulgent and started 
I'using the formidable energies that 
i been bequeathed to them that 
igs started to go wrong. Ultimate- 
Atlantis sank, and the clairvoyant 
! magically energized world they 
■ known hardened into the stub- 
n and unyielding one we know to- 
—a world where machines run on 
)line and the air is disappointingly 
1 and objects do not yield easily 
instantly to human desires. 
4y father didn't find Atlantis, 
ne months after our stay on Bimi- 
i:hat summer, he returned to the 
rid with a crew of sober and fully 
ched geologists, who extracted a 
es of corings from the limestone 
':ks of the great white Road. Ex- 
ned microscopically, these deliv- 
J the news that the Road was a 
\pletely natural formation, down 
ch no lost civilizations, naked or 
thed, had ever wandered or 
iced. All the images of naked 
'ers hovering and darting about 
ve it, all the Remora's sweeping 
:age, were thus rendered useless, 
? for their potential interest to fu- 
■ cultural historians, 
rue to his words to me on the 
t that day, my father took this 
i'S in stride. Goose chases, he 
ntained, were inevitable when 

one spent one's time challenging sci- 
entific orthodoxy. The best thing to 
do, when one found oneself engaged 
in one, was to accept the fact with- 
out struggle and move on. In any 
case, it was not as if Atlantis itself 
was rendered obsolete just because 
the Road had lost its Atlantean 
pedigree. Indeed, no sooner was it 
eliminated as a possible proof of the 
lost continent's existence than other 
forms of evidence began flooding in 
to take its place. Although he never 
released his film about it, my father 
also never abandoned his conviction 
that Atlantis was a reality. As for 
myself, 1 wasn't so sure. For even if 
Atlantis had indeed existed, who 
was to say it would come back just 
because my father and others so des- 
perately and urgently wanted it to? 
Sometimes, it seemed to me, things 
could disappear completely. And 
when that happened, all the positive 
thinking in the world wouldn't bring 
them back again. ■ 

January Index Sources 

1 Nielsen Media Research (N.Y.C.)/ Com- 
mittee for the Study of the American Elec- 
torate (Washington); 2 U.S. Department of 
Health and Human Services/Social Security 
Administration/ U.S. Department of Agricul- 
ture; 3,4 The Scapegoat Generation, Common 
Courage Press/National Center for Health 
Statistics (Hyattsville, Md.); 5 U.S. Census 
Bureau/Wal-Mart (BensonviUe, Ark.); 6,7 
Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation- 
Harvard University Survey Project (Washing- 
ton)/U.S. Department of Labor; 8 Annie E. 
Casey Foundation (Paltimore); 9 Pew Re- 
search Center for the People and the Press 
(Washington); 10,11 University of Michigan 
School of Nursing (Ann Arhor); 12 PETA 
(Norfolk, Va.)/Hflrpcr's research; 13 NBC 
News Poll (N.Y.C); 14,15 United Nations 
(N.Y.C); 16,17 U.S. Health Care Financing 
Administrarion; 18,19 New England Medica' 
Center (Boston); 20 Families USA Founda- 
tion (Washington); 21 Judith Shindul-Roths- 
child, Boston College; 22 U.S. Food and Drug 
Administration; 23 National Center for In- 
fectious Diseases (Atlanta); 24 American So- 
ciety for Microbiology (Washington); 25 
SculptYours (Santa Monica, Calif.); 26 Pegi 
Waffle (Santa Ana, Calif.); 27 Southwest 
Voter Research Institute Inc. (Monlehello, 
Calif.); 28 U.S. Census Bureau; 29 Rosina 
Lippi-Green, University of Michigan (Ann 
Arbor); 30 Turner Broadcasting Network 
(Atlanta); 31,32 U.S. Environmental Protec- 
tion Agency; 33 MCI (Washington); 34 
Zurich Municipal (Bournemouth, England); 
3 5,36 Conimul/ng in America, Eno Trans- 
portation Foimdation; 37 Council of Eco- 
nomic Advisers (Washington); 38 U.S. De- 
partment of Transportation; 39 Northwestern 
University Tran,sportation Library (Evanston, 
III.); 40 BIC Corporation (Milford, Conn.). 

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^Greater Israel'' 

Does it have any relation to reality? 

There are smdent requests by the Arab countries, by the Palestinians, and indeed by 
much of the world that Israel should once and for all abandon its dream of a "Greater 
Israel." Israel's alleged expansionist ambitions have long been a staple of Arab anti- 
Israel propaganda. But what does it really mean? Does it have any relation to reality? 

What are the facts? 

Stripes on the Flag. Arab propvigan- 
da has it that the rwo stripes on the flag of 
Israel. abo\e and below the star of Da\id. 
represent the Nile and the Euphrates 
River, respectively, and signify Israel's 
expansionist desire, to form an "empire" 
that would supposedly reach from Cairo 
to Baghdad. But that has no basis in fact, 
of course. Nowhere in any documents of 
the Je\\ish state, in any statement by even 
the most "radical" spokesman can refer- 
ence to an>thing like that be found. 
Israel's Borders. "Palestine. " pan of 
the Ottoman 
Empire before 
World War I. 
came under 
British man- 
date after that 
war The Golan 
Heights were 
part of Pales- 
tine. Israel's 
current borders 
are the result 
of the 194S 

Israel France California S\xia Ecuador 

----- - S :•■ 



Greater Israel? It's a m\lh. See for vourselfi 

War of Independence, in which six Arab 
armies invaded the new-bom state, but 
were unerly defeated, and the 1967 SLx- 
Day War. in which those same armies 
once again invaded Israel. In that war. 
Israel conquered the Gaza Strip, the \-ast 
Sinai F>eninsula. and the Golan Heights. 
.\nd Israel also repoisexsed the pro\inces 
of Judea Samaria, (the "West Bank"), 
and the eastern part of Jerusalem, which 
had been occupied by the Jordanians 
nineteen vears earlier, when thev invad- 

ed the just new-bom Jewish state. In order 
to achieve peace with Egypt, Israel 
returned to it all of the Sinai. Israel is and 
has always been prepared to grant full 
autonomy to the .Arabs living in 
Judea Samaria. It is clear to all knowl- 
edgeable in military matters that, for 
immutable strategic reason. Israel cannot 
for any foreseeable future abandon or \ield 
militar\- control of Judea Samaria (the 
"West Bank'") and of the Golan Heights. 
The Mytti of Greater Israel. Israel is one 
of the smallest counmes in the world. Most 
people don't realize how small it realh' Ls. One 
wonders whether those who keep talking 
.ibout "Greater 
Lsrael' and \\tio 
wish to pres- 
sure Israel to 
di\est itself of 
.i big chunk of 
Its territors' are 
aware of it. .A 
look at the map 
is revealing. 
Including the 
\ aunted "Wfest 
Bank." the Gaza 
Strip and the Golan Heights, the entire area of 
the countri' is barely over 10.000 square 
miles. France is t\\"ent\' times as large as Israel. 
California fifteen times as large. S>Tia about 
seven times as large, and "tiny" Ecuador ten 
times as large. Israel is so small that its area is 
less than half the size of San Bernardino 
Counrv; California: if it were dropped into 
Lake Michigan it would disappiear from sight 
\\ithout a trace. The .Arab counties in con- 
trast are huge — the\' occup\' n\"ice the area 
of the United States. Greater Israel, indeed! 


It is dear that the concept of ■"Greater Israel." lacks any \-alidit\- and has no basis in fea. To 
apply such a concept to a countr.' as small as Israel would almost seem a mocker.'. Ob\iousk 
Israel has no territorial ambitions. .Ml it wants is to li\"e in peace within secure and defensible 
borders, just as any other counny and as required under U.N. Resolution No. 242. But it seems 
that the ,<trt of Israel, whether "greater" or "lesser" is not at all the coi.cem of Israels implaca- 
ble -Arab enemies. The \'er\- existence of Israel, of a Jewish state in their midst of whate\er size, 
is imacceptable to the .■\rabs. .And unless that mindset changes, not imtil the .Arab states ha\e 
become democracies and ha\'e come to full acceptance of Israel, are willing to make true jseace 
\sith It. and are prepared to establish normal and friendly relations \sith Israel can any jxissible 
territorial adjustment be considered. .As it looks risht now. that ma\' still take some time. 


PO. 80(590359 ■ S^ RancscaCA 94759 

Fl.A.\1E iS a ta-x-exemp-L nor.-prori: 50'. iciiStcs^a-iiza- 
DO-rL hs purpose is the reseanii and pubbcaaon ot'the tacts 
regarding Je\eJopaients ir. the Midd> Ess: and expcsuig 
laise propaganda that trdgh; harm rhe Ir.rerests ot the 
Upjted Sates and its allies ir. that area ot Lhe worid >txrr 
tax-dedi->cnb!e cantributxxis are ^%e)axne. The\ enaMe u; 
to pursue these goais a.Td to pcKish these messages m 
natxvnal nevvscarers and magaa.ncS- \\e haxe \TiTi!a!.V no 
o\erhead .^imcs al ct ocr :?\ pa>s mr olj ed'-vstic-r.i 
^^^Ti^. ST these cisr\trs: TjasKSv atvi kt KHed erect rr^L 

16S, I want to help in the pubhcanon of these ads and 
;n danmng the siruanon in the Middle East. 1 include my 
tax -deductible contribution m the amount ot 
5 AZ\ 

—J M> contnbution is in the amount of S"^5 or more. 
Please send me >tiu- 1-hr \-ideotape deaUnj with three 
important aspects of Israeis strategic situation. 

NV. na-me s 



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By Thomas H. Middleton 

_he diagram, when filled in, will contain a 
quotation from a published work. The numbered 
squares in the diagram correspond to the num- 
bered blanks under the WORDS. The WORDS form 
an acrostic: the first letter of each spells the name 
of the author and the title of the work from which 
the quotation is taken. The letter in the upper 
right-hand comer of each square indicates the 
WORD containing the letter to be entered in that 
square. Contest rules and the solution to last 
month's puzzle appear on page 79. 



A. Takes a respite 

from a journey (2 160 58 6 19 30 189 


31 41 

B. Natural objects 
assumed as em- 
blems of a clan 

55 173 34 38 91 63 

1 c 

2 X 

£^^■4 C 

5 H 

6 A 

7 G 

8 D 

9 K 

10 11 T 

12 F 

13 X^^Hl4 s 

15 K 

^Hl6 c 

17 W 

18 E 

19 A 

20 K 

21 1 

22 V 

23 N 

24 D^H 

25 P 


27 D 

28 C 

29 S 


31 A 

32 W 

33 R 


34 B 

35 U 

36 G 


38 B 

39 V 

40 N 


41 A 

42 K 

43 V 


45 P 

46 X 


47 Y 

48 U 

49 1 

50 P ^^B 51 J 

52 R 

53 T 

54 P 

55 B 

56 X 


58 A 

59 S 

60 R 

61 W 

62 K ^^m 63 B 

54 G 

65 M 

66 V 

67 L 

1 ^^H 69 K 

7C V 

71 L 

72 Y 

73 N 

74 D 

75 H 

76 S 

77 F 

78 S 

79 O^^H 

80 F 

81 X 

82 L ^^m 83 P 

84 1 

85 L 

86 C 

87 T 

88 E 


90 U 

91 B 

S2 L 

93 X 

94 K 

95 N 

96 J 

97 c 

98 Q 

99 U 

100 W 

101 H^^H1D2 

103 X 

104 V 

105 H 

106 K 

107 1.1 


109 S 

110 E 

111 N 


113 T 

114 K 

115 ! 

116 U 


119 R 


121 U 

122 J 

123 E 

124 M 

125 R 

126 S 

127 D 

128 T 

X^^Hl30 U 

131 R 


132 Y 

133 F 

134 J 

135 P 


138 W 


•39 S 

140 P 

141 Y 142 T 

143 F 

144 X 

145 R 

146 Q 

147 C 

148 P 

149 K 


151 U 

152 W 

153 1 

154 P 



158 L 

159 H 

160 A^^H 

161 P 


163 H 


164 R 

165 W 

168 1 

167 D 

168 Q 


170 V 

171 C 

172 X 

173 B 

174 J 

175 U 

■ "' 

17- L 

178 C 

179 E 

180 T 

181 X 

182 1 

183 Y^^H':4 J 

185 P 

186 1 

187 S 



19D D 

191 U 

C. Tending to 

D. Torment 

E. Take away 

F. "Cheers," e.g. 

G. Dodge; quibble 

H. Bested; firmly 
t«'isted yarn 

147 4 16 97 171 1 

86 178 



















155 37 64 7 36 

44 75 5 101 105 159 163 

I. Explain 

186 182 21 49 115 68 

166 153 

J. With appropriate 

precision 174 1S4 122 96 51 134 

K. Shoot the breeze 

(3 wds.) 9 106 62 69 114 149 

L. Stuffed 

M. Malleable 

metallic element 
allied to iron 
and cobalt 

N. Foaming 
O. .Agreement 

92 158 67 71 177 82 

102 137 65 124 107 90 

73 23 111 95 40 

112 169 89 162 150 26 

42 15 
94 20 


157 10 

P. Italian states- 
man and writer 

Q. Bound to under- 
go (2 wds.) 

R. 14th-cent. B.C. 
queen of Eg^pt 

S. Paul ufges the 
Philippians to 
think on "whatso- 
ever things are 

af " (2\vds., 

Philippians 4:8) 

T. Faulty muscular 
or glandular co- 

U. Bootleg booze 

v. Small trees, genus 

W. Dick, eye, flatfoot 

X. Large oboe 
(2 wds.) 

Y. Weird, creepy 

83 161 148 154 54 45 185 50 
140 135 25 

168 117 79 146 98 

119 125 131 136 33 145 164 60 


139 78 59 120 109 29 76 14 
187 126 

11 53 142 ISO 156 118 128 113 


121 116 130 151 175 35 99 48 


170 66 39 70 104 43 

152 17 165 HS 61 



56 93 129 144 172 46 2 81 
103 181 13 

r>2 108 141 47 





By Richard E. Malthy ]r. 


>ilue answers, common words (one foreign), are to he 
broken up inro "tiles" ot one or two letters. For example, 
the answer SHOE mi^ht he broken up as S H O E, SH O E, 
^ no L, S 11 1,11:, or SH OE. Each tile can then be "projected" 
mto the diagram according to the grid co-ordinates. Each 
rile appears once among the Clue answers. The completed 
diagram will be a crossword of unclued words, common ex- 
cept tor AL' Down. (Solvers wanting an extra challenge can 
try to solve the pu::le using only the Clues.) Across and 
Down answers, one per row and column, and similarly 
"tiled," will help reveal the correct tiling. These answers 
include one proper noun. The solution to last month's puz- 
zle appears on page 79. 


1. Bowler has her at Commencement — ("has" in the 
Biblical (4) IN, JS, IX 

2. Fuzzy with disheartening anger (4) KU, K") 

3. Square tack (4) CQ, LV, RP 

4- Love causes irritated hack (4) CV, BU, AO 

5. Spanish queen; check one (5) AT, DU, HO 

6. Candy holding a ... a doU'.s words (5) CX, JX, FM, LR 

7. Musical pieces that sound saccharine (5) FP, BQ, ow 
(S. Public spectacle taken in by ear (5) BM, JT, AR 

9. Unit ot militia raised for the Crown (5) GT, DS, KO 

1 0. Lightweight bouncer is out of bounds ( 5 ) CR, CW, KT, BV 

1 1 . Least sound sausage (5) BR, FN, AX 

12. just on opening, maple leaves shake three times more 
(6) IT, LO, EW 

1 3. Fruit makes ring on stove (6) BX, US, DM 

14. Hand-holder has breather after college (6) .AM, JO, EO 

1 5. When the last leaves, have chasers (6) HQ, BW, CT 

16. When one faces others, hallelujah! (6) FR, BO, ]M 

1 7. Bridge round masseur (6) KW, CO, LW, KR 

hS. Fooling around in France, this is bound to be returned 
(6) LT, AU, IW, HR, |R 

\^l Mind lover of -4 (6) FS, OX, F^', JW 

20. "Return of the Menace" oftended (6) EX, KP, IV, fX^, LQ 

21. Lessen shot glasses (6) FX, LM, Ks, jq 

22. Files down halfway, rises anew (7) or, IQ, EV, LX 

23. Ability to take lead formed at dorms (7) I'lN, GV, BS, HN 

24. Pontiac changes heading (7) FU, IM, HV, .AQ, ET 

25. Graverobbing soul, high-tlying (8) IR, EP, LU, JN, CS 

26. Spend the summer months (tour) in country property 
(S) 0\1, IP, }\V, DQ, FO 

27. First row center, leaving unsettled (S) tiR, HT, GM, IP 
2iS. Don't start disrobing, taking drugs (8) AP, AW, KN, nv, JV 

29. CA'clers in Rem, tossing back coke (8) HP, HW, BN, GX, LN 

30. Summoned, went ott again like a knight.' (9) is, GU, 
lAV, OX, EO 

3 1 . Stone-layers' first Dodge (9) EU, AV, LS, FT, HX, OP 

32. Love me during trade measure (9) EN, t;N, KX, DT, PR, ES 
1 V X'aluable that's free.' (9) BT, HO, UJ, LP, O.Q, CO 



























34. Go to bed in sea gone dark (9) KQ, HS, ER, JU, EM, FQ, AN 

35. Counting on a call 1 cut out (H) AS, KV, DP, KM, FV, MM 

A. Send roses — time to get beyond more shooting (6) 


B. Roar wildly around, ending in dead heat (5) BN, BS, BX 

C. Kinds of shirt pins in golf (4) CN, CT 

D. Defile saint? (5) DN, DS, nv 

E. Proper words for those in the habit of mostly getting 
taken in (5) EM, EP, ET, EX 

F. Select it any which way — it depends on the male! (8) 

G. Party with Kennedy and get cared for (5) GP, GW, GX 

H. Seeing through scalped fictional Indian (2,2) HM, HP 

1. Turning profits gets church in stink (6) IP, lU, IV, IW, IX 

]. Foreign leader brings Frost back (4) JM, ]N, JU 

K. Rule for sound precipitative action? (4) KO, KP, KT 

L. First piece of Film Guide (6) LP, LS, LT, LX 


M. Shuffling, anteing gets you blue (7) DM, EM, GM, KM, LM 

N. Comic roasts ball players (6) BN, DN, FN, LN 

O. Crying about each essay (5) FO, HO, lO 

P. Useful cat affects us more (6) CP, EP, FP, JP 

Q. Bejeweled and bored? (5) CQ, DQ, EQ, LQ 

R. They want a hand, or so we figured (6) PR, CR, KR, LR 

S. Stock cooking shears (6) CS, HS, IS, KS 

T. Dieter maniacally got even again (6) AT, GT, JT, LT 

U. Cons in full prisons: evil (6) CU, DU, KU, LU 

V. Rank tongue-lashing (6) AV, GV, HV, IV, JV 

W. Bird on the back end of the back end (4) GW, HW 

X. M-Mesta, M-Merman, a bit of that! (7) AX, JX, KX, LX 

C^onteSt Rules: ScnJ i.iinipleK\l Ji^iijr.ini unh n;im(.- and address to "Projec-Tiles," Harpcr'i Magazine. 666 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 
lOOl 2. It you .ilrc.Kly subsLribc to Harjicr's, please include a copy ot your latest mailing label. Entries must he received by January 8. Senders 
ol the tirst tlirce correct solutions opened at random will receive one-year subscriptions to Harper's Magazine. Winners' names will be printed 
m the March issue. Winners of the November ^^16 pu::le, "Dedicated Plodecabedron III," are Mike Miller, New York, New York; Vicki 
Spcllman, .Aurora, Illinois; ;ind Jetirey R. Folts, Hattield, Massachusetts. 

S8 1 lAKPHR'S MAt lA/lNH / lANPlARY 1 W7 

You really can 
switch down to 

lower tar 
and still enjoy 

the taste! 

© Philip Morris Inc., 1996 


. ,- Ultima:! mg "tar;;D.l mg.nicoiine-Ultra lighis:5 rag, 
nieGtiine-Kings; 8 rag "tar: 0.6 mg nicoiin.e av. per cigarette by 

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.^k^- •■ 





Shipping Home the Fruits of Misery 
B}' Ted C . Fishman 


In Africa, Nations Hire a Corporation to Wage War 

By Elizabeth Rubin 


A Psychiatric Handhook Lists a Madness for Everyone 

By L. J.Davis eURLlNGAWiE 


A story by Stci'cn Polansky ^ LIBRARY v 

Also: Francisco Goldman, Dr. Bert Keizer, Caryl Burtner 









VWJ' i^'""e/ L-O-V-E-S /;(-;■ 5.7, 




When folks ask Holly 

what kind of car 

she has, spelling out 

S-A-T-U-R-N takes too 

long. So she made up 

her own sign language 

symbol for it. (Not to 

he confused ivith the 

symbol for a U-turn.) 

"It's a result of listening/' That's how Holly Daniel 
feels about our new coupe. Because when Holly 
told us about a problem w,ith her '92 Saturn's stereo, 
we listened. Of course, we don't normaly get stereo 

, ,^ The 19^7 Smurn SCI , 

complaints irom ^^.^^^yp^^^ o'^vnersv/house sign 

language. But ^fpHj^^^^^P then once sHe 
explained she liked liie music's vibration, it al 
i made sense. And it's input from people like 

Holly (Saturn ov\mers, that is) that led us satiwn. 
to make a whole ton of changes in our 1997 coupe. 
Including a new option on our sound systems. 

I hi iiidkini' a car that's really different, yon never know 
/ ffiirx '**'*j*' where that next idea will come from. Sometimes it comes 

I III the mail. Or through our customer assistance line. After all, 

I J u'hv should our designers and ens-ineers have all the fuiii 



This I'-i"-'? Sail ni SCI Inn uii M.S.RJ'. o/Sf J, *''■''>, mdiidma retailer prep and Inmsl'irnatiim. Tlie total fust will I'aiy scriug huw ciptmin an- exiui. as arr l.i\ jii,l /itcj/Sf. 
m' can provide ,n,<re dctilil al I -H(l(rlZl-.^!IIIU (mice). I -HIHhHU-UUHHnY) or kmk fin as uii tin- hilernet at httpjlume.satiimcars.cinn. Cj\--Mh Satimi C.nrporalM^ 





M A U 

I N 

FOUNDED IN 1850 / VOL. 294, NO. 1761 


The Conundrum of Creation 

' Notebook 

Economic Correctness 

Harper's Index 


Clinton's Bogus Earth Days 

One Gangsta's Paradise 

Garden-Variety Xenophobia 

Making the Final Rounds 

The Yearning of the Screw 


The Ship Visitor 

And . . . 


Shipping home the fruits of misery 


In Africa, nations hire a 
corporation to wage war 


Inside a Colombian cartel's 
money-laundering machin'" 



A psychiatric handbook 

lists a madness for everyone 




Andrew Macfarlane , Mo/ieen Matsumura 


Leuns H. Lapham 



Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair 

Ernest "Smokey" Wilson 

foachim Wolschke-Bulmahn 

Dr. Bert Keizer 

Fabio Mordbito 

Michael Almereyda 

Francisco Goldman 

Andy Goldsworthy , fanuary Knoop, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, 

readers of The National Review 


Ted C . Fishman 


Elizabeth Rubin 


Mark Schapiro 


L. ./. Davis 


Steven Polansky 

79 Thomas H. Middletim 

80 Richard E. Mahbyfr. 

' Coi'er: Phntograjih by ThomcK R. Rani/)^ lU /The Imat^e Bank 

iarper's Magazine is owned and published monthly hy the Harpet's Magazine Foundation, 666 Broailway, New York, New York 10012. Allen Ausrill, Chairman. Copyright ® 
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LhWh H^ Lai'iiam 

Dt'ltuty Editor 
Cailin Hakkison 

Manu.ipng Eiiiior 
Hl.I.IN RoSENRl'Sll 

Si'niur Editors 
CiiARisCoNN, Paul Tcx'cul 

Art Dircciiir 
AN(;ki.a RiFi nuts 

Asiociaic EdiiiiTs 


Jim Nelson, Ai.exanpra Rince 

Assistant Etiiiors 
Rix;er D. I lorwE, Joei Loveli. 

Editorial Assi.stiini 
Susan Burton 

Assistiint to the Editor 



Mk HAH. HsLi, Ravi Krishna Mattu, 

AmV SlHRDEnER, Katia Shaye 

Contributing Editors 

Six>TT Anplrson, L. J. Davis, 

Mark Ehmunhson, DARrv Hrey. 

David GuTERsoN, Barbara Grizzlti Harrison, 

Jack Hitt, Stephen Hubpell, Barry Lopez, 

Peter Marin, Vince Passaro, 

George Plimiton, R|(.:hard Rodrioue/, 

David Samuels, Bob Shaoi.x:his, 

Earl Shorris, Shelby Steele, Sallie Tishale, 

David Foster Wallai e, Tom Wolee 

MkHAEL PllLLAN, EdiIor-al-Lirgf 

John R. MacArthur, President and PhWis/ilt 

Vice Prcsidt'iit and Associate PuWister 

Peter D. Kendall 

V'lLL' /Vesidi'tu and General Manager 
Jeanne Dlibi 

Vict" President, C'irLidiiiion 
Lynn Carlson 

V'lee Pre-.iiknt. Public Relaiiom 
Sean McLaui;hlin 

Danielle Lisa L"iiMatteo, Circidatiim Manaf^cr 

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Assistant to the Publisher / Kig/tis and Reprints 

1"iiane Krait 

Kim Lai , Stu/ZAeeniintant 

Keeel'tionist / Adi'ertisini; Assistant 
NoREEN AsslNl. 

Matthew Salamone, Staff 
JennihiR Lambert, / Intern 


(212)(il4'6=iOO;FA\: (:i2) 228-588') 

Uirea Response I Classified J)ireeIor 
RoNNi Beth Siei.el 

SL!E Furdek, Vl'est Coasi Miinager 
(415) 654-1201; F\\: (415)654-1208 

Van NoUVEN, ProJiieiimi Mamiger 

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Su(e-S Re/)resentatiivs 

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The Conundrum of Creation 

As a contemporary ot geologist 
Kurt Wise at Harvard, 1 read Jack 
Hitt's insightful commentary on the 
resurgence of creaticYnism, "On Earth 
as It Is in Heaven" [November 1996], 
with great interest. Science is essen- 
tially curiosity-driven, and the appa- 
ratus of hypothesis, experiment, and 
observation is meant to protect us 
from arriving at a given conclusion if 
the truth lies elsewhere. Observa- 
tions that contradict the existing wis- 
dom (Ytten lead toward, not away 
from, the truth, and such nonintu- 
itive disc(Yveries as the orbit of the 
earth around the sun, quantum theo- 
ry, and the existence of DNA could 
not have been made any other way. 
"Scientific creationism," of course, is 
the inverse ot science, proceeding 
from a foregone conclusion to seek 
observations that support it and to 
reject observations that do not. 

Wise's graduate department in- 
cluded faculty who were world-fa- 
mous for their work on the age and 
history of the earth; Wise avoided 
their courses and seminars, preferring 
instead to isolate himself from any 
.scientist who challenged his beliefs. 
At his dissertation defense, I watched 
him present a legitimate reevaluation 
of the criteria by which time ranges 
are assigned to various fossil groups. 
But in di)ing so he assiduously avoid- 
ed the issue of the actual ages of the 
fossils. He knew perfectly well that 
tens of thousands of radiometric-age 
determinations had been published, 
any c^ne of which would have been 
enough to disprove the existence i>f a 

Haq^er's Magazine welcomes reader response. 
Please address ccmespondcnce to Letters Edi- 
tor. Short letters are more likely to be pub- 
lished, aiul all letters are subject to editing. Vol- 
\ime jricchules iiulividital acknowledfjrrient. 

young earth, so in preparing his th 
he chose to ignore them. 

Public acceptance of Wise's h 
perpetuates a gross misunderstanc 
of the role and methodology of 
ence, and perpetuates as well 
dangerous misconception that 
ence is the enemy of religion. Oi 
the abandonment of reason and 
embrace of superstition led us i« 
the Dark Ages. It is vital that we m 
let "scientists" such as Wise leadtt 
down that road again. S 

Andrew Macfarlane 




Jack Hitt's analysis of the "scien 
ic creationism" issue would h 
been better served by shcYwing lesi 
what's happening in lonely mount 
caves and small denominational c 
leges, and mtsre of what's happen 
in our nation's public schools. Sii 
November 1995, five state legis 
tures have considered anti-evolut 

laws, six state party platfcirms h; 
called for the teaching of creatic 
ism, and two state school boa 
have adopted anti-evolution currii 
la. The courts have thus far founc 
unconstitutional to ban the teach: 
of evolution and force creation! 
on our children, but teachers are 1 
ing urged to do so anyway by pare 
claiming that their children hav( 
"right" to be protected from kno\ 
edge of modern science. In Kentuc 
a school superintendent went so 
as to order that textbook pages 
glued together because a discussion 
the Big Bang theory did not inck 
Genesis's account of creation as we 
Hitt correctly identifies scienti 
creationism's greatest flaw: no m; 
ter the question asked, the answer 
always predetermined by the re 
gious beliefs of the "scientist." It v. 

I helpful for Hitt to point out that 

!! ch of creation science amounts to 

'jiuld haves." But some of his com- 

! nts may mislead readers about 

i' ilution's contribution to our store 

I knowledge. For example, evolu- 

aary scientists have explained how 

iimal[s] evolve an eye or a wing," 

)wing how the forelimbs of a com- 

in ancestor were modified in dif- 

;nt ways to become birds' wings, 

s' wings, and the forelegs of vari- 

; other animals. 

Surely the readers of Harper's Mag- 
lie don't want their children leam- 
; that, as Wise claims, "flood tec- 
lie activity heated up the ocean 
f aperature to thirty degrees celsius" 
temperature lethal to much ma- 
e life), or that, as creation scien- 
t John Woodmorappe suggests, 
lah's Ark might have been illumi- 
■ ced by fireflies! They need to know 
\ truth, and so do their parents. 

ileen Matsumura 
itional Center for Science 
Education -__ . 

rkeley, Calif. 

' IThe end of Jack Hitt's essay neatly 

capsulates the fear at the heart of 

; anti-evolution agenda. Longing 

an existence imbued with "mean- 

I f from without, for reassurance of 
'c from above, for a tidy explana- 
m for why we are what we are and 

li lere we are going hints at the same 
ational fear that makes a child 
;k the attention, love, and ap- 
Dval of his or her parents and oc- 
py the center of their universe. 
'Darwin, a devout man, viewed his 
ok On the Origin of Species as "one 

r ig argument" for the idea of "de- 
nt with modification" — the his- 

jjrical, genealogical relationship of 
I organisms. This is a view that 
any religious people have found 
rfectly compatible with their faith 

\ cause kinship with other organ- 
ns magnifies, not diminishes, the 
3ry of their God. 

But the creationist agenda means 
Dre than narcissism. Besides its an- 
intellectualism and alarming goal 
legislating its particular received 
Jth, the more pernicious subtexts 
this agenda include a denial of 
:rsonal responsibility and the 
lunch defense of a status quo in 

which everyone knows his place — 
both of which inhere to an ideology 
built on the notion of divine order. 

In the final paragraph of Origin, 
Darwin points out that "there is 
grandeur in this view of life . . ."; I 
would add that there is also humility in 
this view of life, a lesson that hu- 
mankind, perhaps fundamentalist 
zealots especially, could stand to learn. 

]im Costa 
CuUowhee, N.C. 

Pity Jack Hitt chose only to inves- 
tigate and write about the orthodox, 
those who let their assumptions dic- 
tate their science. 1 speak, of course, 
of both the young-earth creationists, 
who assume the earth to be far 
younger than it apparently is, and 
evolutionary theorists, who assume, 
evidence to the contrary, that macro- 
evolution, natural selection, and ran- 
dom mutations have given rise to the 
incredible complexity and sublime 
order that surrounds and includes us. 

Like the young-earthers, evolution- 
ists acknowledge only what scientific 
evidence fits their theory, and we 
should not assume that the ground 
they stand on is any more solid. 
Stephen Jay Gould has said that nat- 
ural selection and random mutation 
may no longer be viable as key ele- 
ments of evolutionary theory. Colin 
Patterson, senior paleontologist for 
the British Museum, is oft quoted as 
saying that after twenty years of 
studying evolution, he could not list a 
single thing that he knew to be true 
about it. Physicist Roger Penrose has 
said that the chance of an ordered 
universe happening at random is 10 
to the 10 to the 30th against — a 
number so large that if you pro- 
grammed a computer to write a mil- 
lion zeros per second, it would take a 
million times the age of the universe 
just to write the number down. 

Ultimately, one has to wonder 
how scientists who assume the pro- 
found presence of patterns in nature 
in order to practice their very art can 
also assume that those patterns de- 
veloped randomly, from nothingness. 
Patterns imply intelligence, and an 
ordered creation implies an orderer. 

Andy Fletcher 
Colorado Springs 


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weight training. Author 
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as they reveal their mental 
preparation to excel. Avail- 
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Going to the Chapel? 

As Fenton Jnhnson pointed out in 
his essay "Wedded to an Illusion" 
[November 1996], ^ays and lesbians 
are not necessarily helping themselves 
by insisting that the law recognize 
their right to marry. For years now, 
people have known that the form of a 
relationship should be determined on- 
ly by those in the relationship and 
that many forms are possible. Con- 
gress's Defense of Marriage Act, 
which was signed by President Clin- 
ton last September, attempts to bring 
back the days when everybody knew 
1) what marriage was and 2) that it 
was a good thing. It only succeeds in 
confimiing that those days are gone. 

Do gays have a right to marry? As 
much right as anybody. But although 
legalized gay marriage may be the 
shortest route to the economic bene- 
fits that government confers on 
straight marriages, gays should be- 
ware the lure of "legitimizing," "con- 
firming," or "committing to" their 
relationships via an institution that 
traditionally doesn't work too well. 
We should also ask whether the state 
has any legitimate interest in punish- 
ing or rewarding citizens for the way 
they manage their personal lives. 

The state's basis tor rewarding mar- 
riage is, ostensibly, the need for chil- 
dren to be protected from abandon- 
ment. Yet the protection offered 
children by the legal and ecclesiastical 
status of iT^arriage is already somewhat 
attenuated, and I suspect that the real 
reason behind the state's preference 
for heterosexuality is the simple fact 
that heterosexuality is widespread 
among voters and tends, over time, to 
generate new taxpayers. 

Richard Cri)Uider 
Glen Allen, Va. 

Like many ot my feminist and 
tjueer friends, and like Fenton John- 
son, i have watched with mixed emo- 
tion the impending state sanction of a 
lesbian bond in Hawaii. As a hetero- 
sexual feminist, 1 am eager to see the 
institution of marriage — the corner- 
stone of patriarchy — wither away and 
be replaced by the voluntary commit- 
ments and miprovised families John- 
son applauds. As a realist and social 
egalitarian, though, 1 know that mar- 

riage isn t going to disappear anytime 
soon. And every citizen must there- 
fore have access to its benefits. 

But whereas my ambivalence is 
strategic, Johnson's is sentimental. 
He seems nostalgic for the idea of 
marriage as only someone forbidden 
it can be, and that personal attach- 
ment shows up in his ill-considered 
policy recommendation: that gov- 
ernment confer "rewards," in the 
form of rax breaks, adoption privi- 
leges, and the like, on "behavior that 
contributes to social stability." 

Contingent on heterosexual mar- 
riage or not, such benefits would be 
carrots to long-term partnership, the 
concomitant sticks of which are ef- 
forts to make divorce more difficult. 
Johnson's idea, like right-wing efforts 
and the scores of stem marriage man- 
uals by the cimservative Christians 
who promote them, implies that such 
commitment is so difficult to achieve 
that it requires vigilance and prizes for 
its maintenance and painful deter- 
rents to its dissolution. 

Marriage and comparable cou- 
plings commonly begin with love 
and sex, as Johnson says. But al- 
though they endure in part because 
of these things, they are cemented 
ec^ually, if not more so, by improved 
financial security, joint property, his- 
tory, habit, children, in-laws, mutual 
friends, the declining sexual mar- 
ketability of the partners, and AIDS. 
All of these are powerful incentives 
to getting and staying together — in- 
deed, most people eventually do 
both. But they also tempt us toward 
the status quo that coLipledom has 
always promoted. 

At this point, the state's only "in- 
terest" in marriage is to regulate sex- 
uality, and the ham-handed Defense 
of Marriage Act reveals the anachro- 
nistic and inherently discriminatory 
nature of that endeavor. Govern- 
ment shiuild distribute social welfare 
benefits, such as affordable health 
care and help for parents, to all indi- 
viduals, neither rewarding any par- 
ticular kind of consensual relation- 
ship nor punishing deviance from it. 
Hawaii governor Ben Cayetano is 
right: the state should get out of the 
marriage business altogether. 

Judith Levine 
Brooklyn, N.Y. 

A Mine Is a Terrible Thin 
to Waste 

Edwin Dobb should he commjid- 
ed for "Pennies from Hell," his;x- 
haustive examination of Mon,na 
copper mining in the October )96 
issue. Although I might quibble iith 
the title, Dobb illuminates the "s((az- 
ophrenic attitude" our nationjtas 
adopted toward the extractive in|js- 
tries when he writes that "it itso 
transparently hypocritical not tojid- 
mit [our] indebtedness." ■', 

Each American consumes 40pO 
pounds of new minerals a year, yjias 
a nation we seem unwilling to |ce 
the consequences of this vorac|*is 
appetite. Butte's Berkeley Pit s^- 
fied that appetite with more thaffl3 
billion pounds of copper in neaffa 
hundred years of operation. MucW 
this copper was transformed intone"' 
wire through which electricitjis 
now ccmducted from coast to coaj. 

The Berkeley Pit is an examplioi 
yesterday's technology. Today, Site 
and federal laws protect the et'i- 
ronment, and mining compares 
must comply with more than tltet, 
dozen federal laws and regulatMj 
covering their operations. McP- 
over, it is important to note tiat 
mining has touched less than c e- 
quarter of one percent of all ie„ 
land in the United States. ! ;> 

Members of the National Minij^l 
Association have invested hund df* 
of millions of dollars to protect 
environment and reclaim mi 
lands. Mining strives to operate inm 
environmentally sensitive manit:% 
protecting wildlife, reclaiming ab 
doned mine sites, and using new te 
nologies to enhance the environm(s.ff 

As we have communicatedij 
President Clinton, it takes a minijd 
build that bridge to the twenty-| 
century of which he is so fo| 
Without mining you cannot builj| 
bridge, literally or figuratively, 
anywhere. The question is whet 
we will produce the minerals for 
bridge in the United States, with 
attendant economic benefits, or 
port them from abroad. 

Richard L. Laivsorx 

National Mining Association 
Washington, D.C. 


^od for Thought 

I write in response to "Fine Din- 
hg's Biggest Threat" in the Readings 
ection of your December 1996 issue, 
a which I was wrongly placed among 
hose New York Times restaurant crit- 
;s who do not take price into consid- 
eration when making evaluatioiis. 
' Yes, I do. So did my predecessor, 
'ohn Canaday. The legend accompa- 
lying my reviews stated that ratings 
leflected my reaction to food and set- 
ice in relation to price. This was ex- 
nlained months ago on Page Six of 
he New York Post, and I'm surprised 
darper's would waste space on some- 
hing that is both trivial and old news. 

Aimi Sheraton 
Jew York City 

iVallace in Wonderland? 

We enjoyed Richard Wallace's 
(Malice in Wonderland" in the No- 
vember 1996 Readings. It soon be- 
',ame clear to us, however, that the 
author was trying to unburden him- 
telf He seemed as obsessed with ana- 
grams as was Lewis Carroll himself, 
md sure enough, the first paragraph of 
lis article contains a grisly confession. 
Rearranging the letters of: 
This is my story of Jack the Ripper, the 
i man behind Britain's worst unsolved 
' murders. It is a story that points to the 
unlikeliest of suspects: a man who 
wrote children's stories. That man is 
Charles Dodgson, better known as 
Lewis Carroll, author of such beloved 
I books as Alice in Wonderland. 

we arrive at: 

The truth is this: 1, Richard Wallace, 
stabbed and killed a muted Nicole 
Brown in cold blood, severing her 
throat with my trusty shiv's strokes. 1 
set up Orenthal James Simpson, who 
is utterly innocent of this murder. P.S. 
I also wrote Shakespeare's sonnets, 
and a lot of Francis Bacon's works too. 

Painfully obvious once you spot it, 
sn't it? Off with his head! 

^rancis Heaney 
view York City 

Guy Jacobson 
Bridgewater, N.J. 

iditors' Note: 

Due to a printer's error, a section of 
he January issue appeared on the 
vrong paper stock. We regret any puz- 
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Economic correctness 
By Lewis H. Lapham 

'Vhat I want to see above all is that this 
emains a country where someone can 
iways get rich. 

— Ronald Reagan 


hen the Republican majorities 
'a Congress began busying themselves 
n early December with preliminary 
avestigations of the Lippo Group, the 
ndonesian cartel said to have sup- 
died extravagant gifts of cash to last 
lear's presidential campaign, the first 
lewspaper reports seemed as straight- 
Drward as an old Charlie Chan movie 
-cunning oriental businessmen lure 
ich but toolish American tourist into 
crooked mah-jongg game in a water- 
ront opium den. The papers didn't 
ack for details — President Clinton's 
xchange of notes and visits with 
4ochtar Riady, the mysterious com- 
ngs and goings of John Huang, "dis- 
>roportionate influence" brought to 
lear on the making of American for- 
ign policy, large campaign contribu- 
ions abruptly returned by the Demo- 
ratic National Committee — and for 
■. few days it looked as if the story was 
ikely to bloom into big news. 

But the moral lesson apparently 
vas harder to draw than the head- 
ines implied, and before the month 
vas out I was receiving telephone 
alls from nervous Washington cor- 
espondents in search of experts 
vhom they could consult on the fin- 
T points of foreign trade. Did I know 
;nybody reliable on Wall Street, and 
vhat was the name of Disney's man 
vho understood the market in off- 
hore bribes.' If Air France could hire 

Senator Dole to sell weekend flights 
to Paris, what prevented the Lippo 
Group from hiring President Clinton 
to sell Coca-Cola in Vietnam? If the 
global economy was nothing other 
than a gigantic shopping mall and if 
an Indonesian billionaire wished to 
buy an American president instead 
of an American airplane or an 
American truck, why make the 
transaction unpleasant or unneces- 
sarily difficult? 

The confusion was both technical 
and philosophical, and the range of 
questions suggested that the senior 
officers of the national news media 
lacked a doctrine of economic cor- 
rectness. They knew that under the 
rules of the new economic world or- 
der the value ot national sovereignty 
had been much reduced — becoming 
roughly equivalent to that of the pic- 
turesque backgrounds in an impor- 
tant movie or a trendy restaurant — 
and they understood that the 
Japanese already owned most of the 
Hollywood movie studios, that Ru- 
pert Murdoch owned the New York 
Post and Fox News, and that Ha- 
chette, a French publishing syndi- 
cate, had acquired the franchise on 
John F. Kennedy Jr., the best of 
America's political brand names. But 
if most ot what was worth buying in 
the American auction already had 
been sold to foreign bidders, on what 
text could they construct indignant 
sermons about the purchase of an al- 
ready discounted President tor a price 
well below that of an Alaskan torest? 

Their most pressing questions I re- 

ferred to a friend who trades interna- 
tional currencies tor Salomon Broth- 
ers, but then it occurred to me to 
make note of the words and phrases 
that lately have come to express the 
trend of the times. The meanings 
flutter in the prevailing wind of 
opinion like telltales fixed to the 
mast of a sailboat, and over the 
course ot the last two or three years 
the definitions appeared to have 
shifted quite a few compass points to 
the right. The device of an alphabet- 
ical list I borrowed from Gustave 
Flaubert, who compiled his Dictio- 
nary of Accepted Ideas during the lat- 
ter half of the nineteenth century 
and who was thoughtful enough to 
indicate preferred tones of voice as 
well as to supply suggestions tor apt 
quotation and supplemental phrase. 


The unacknowledged legislators of 
the world. 


The first capitalist. He defined 
slaves as "animated tools" and classi- 
fied them among the animals and 


Proper show of respect when ad- 
dressing persons blessed with annual 
incomes in excess ot $500,000. (See 


Not to be scoffed at. They're the 
people who write the tax exemp- 
tions. "What else is a banker or a 


businessman it not an enli,L;hronei.l 


Pulitical financial proJucrs; the 
equivalents ot junk hiinds. 


Wealth incarnate. The li\'es ot the 


Heroes ot our tune. Their decisive 
hahit ot mind allows them to order 
tlie dismissal of 40,000 supertluous 
workers without a mciment's thought 
or delay. Reter to them as champions 
ot the people. 


The road to hell. 


Land ot hoiuidless opportunity. 
Every two weeks another 4,000 Chi- 
nese become millionaires. 


Should be privatized. (See YEL- 


Ask grandly, "When v\'as America 
anythiiig other than a conservative 


Dominant institution of the late 
twentieth century, comparable to 
the medieval Church or the Roman 
legions in the first century A. P. Be- 
cause it exists in the realm of pure 
abstraction (like money and the 
Holy Ghost), it can give birth to its 
own parents. 


Sign oi a mature society. The prac- 
tice of taking bribes teaches the lesson 
oi tolerance. 


Overrated. Quote Winstoii Chur- 
chill, "Culture is the glittering scum 
that floats on the ri\-er of produc- 


Outworn system ot government, 
unequal to the tasks ot the twenty- 
first century. A luxury that no first- 
rate natit)n can continue to atfori.1. 
Quote John Aeiams, "There ne\'er 
was a democracy that d\d not commit 



Inspire trust. 


Must be stopped. 


Suffers from apathy. Compare the 
affliction to Hutch elm disease, 
"blighting the forests oi trectloni." 


Local or regional customs, like 
Basque folk songs or Bolivian hats. 
St)ld at steep discounts in the gk)bal 


Sacrosanct. Must be protected at 
all costs. Avoid attempting to define 
the phrase. Also describes the Mafia. 


A much happier system of govern- 
ment than generally supposed. Hitler 
ga\e it a bad name. 


Synonymous with an income of 

$500,000 a year. (See AWE.) 


The few people who still question 
its omniscience are the kind of people 
v\'ho belong to weird religious sects. 


Symbol ot democracy. (See MC- 


Under the management ot the 
World Trade Organization in Gene- 
va. The resident clerks envision 
higher walls, better waste-disposal 
systems, more prisons. 


Reckless impulse. CJompare it to 
drtink Llri\'ing. 


Engineered by wise financiers to 
guarantee the happiness ot mankind. 
The mechanism is very expensive and 
very delicate, rec]uiring the participa- 
tion ot in\'estors instead ot citizens. 


Tasteless word. Substitute "hus- 
bandry" or "prudence." 


Recognized at King last as the true 
father ot the country. Praise him 
withoLit stint. 

Twenty years ago he was most' 
known tor having been killed in|i 
duel. His new place in the panthcili 
of American demigods is founded >i 
his prescience. Well ahead of I'i 
time, he understood the important 
of banks and child labor. On the 1;'- 
ter point, you may quote him diivo 
ly: "Women and children are re- 
i.lerei.1 nmre useful, and the lattj' 
more early useful, by manufacturi ; 
establishments than they vvouLl i)t> 
erwise be." 



Anything that appears on tele\^ 
sioiY. Say, "In Ken Burns we ha t 
found tnir Macaulay and our Gibboiy 


Dangerous substance. If left stand- 
ing too long at room temperature c^i 
a library table, idealism congeals inii 
idet)logy, which breeds totalitariai' 
ism and puritanical reigns of virtij. 
Robespierre was an idealist. So vv]i 


Priceless commodity. 


Always betrayed. 


AH, alas, defunct. Gone with t-; 
buffalo that once ennobled tl>: 
Great Plains. 


Synonym for anything weak, so); 
effeminate, obsolete, or un-Ames* 
can. Always pronounced with an iijfc 
tonation of scorn. 

Four years ago the rules of rheto' 
cal decency obliged President BlL: 
to mask the insult with a eii- 
phemism — "the L word." The Dd: 
campaigiY could afford to speak mc'. 
plainly. "The country in the mea 
time had learned to properly evalui^ 
the ruinous cost ot good intentions. 


Deccirative art; belongs to tljk 
same category of ornament as thrct 
pillows and lawn sculpture. 


Symbid of tleimicracy. (See El'. 


The litjht of the world and tli: 



andate of Heaven. Impossible to 
/ enough in its favor. 


Glorious manifestation of human 
genuity. The source of all our 
essings. Why the department 
ores never run out of Italian suits 
.d French cologne. 


The department stores understand 

better than the universities. 


Last refuge of small and impover- 
led countries without a well-devel- 
ed tourist trade. Instead of tennis 
urts and boat marinas they have 
eet riots and torn flags. 


In short supply. Driven off the mar- 
t during the last two years by the 70 
rcent rise of the Dow Jones Indus- 
al Average. NXTien Dole asked after 
whereabouts during the final, des- 
rate week of last November's presi- 
ntial campaign, he was informed by 
;e polls that it was where it was sup- 
sed to be — stored safely in the attic 
th the Bob Dylan records. 


Expensive pastime, like golf or 
ng gliding. Once enjoyed by farm- 
; and populists; now pursued most- 
by people who can afford their 
m airplanes. 


By-products of the global econo- 
)'. They perform a necessary ser- 
:e, reminding people more fortu- 
tely placed that the advancement 
learning does not come cheap, 
at civilization entails sacrifice. 
In the early months of the Clin- 
n Administration it was thought 
at the government might do some- 
ing on behalf of the poor. But that 
IS before the poor were redefined 
object lessons and cautionary 
es. To make them rich would de- 
oy their purpose. 


Never indecent or obscene. 


Must be punished and made ex- 
iples of, if necessary by the occa- 
>nal bombing of a camel caravan 
onewhere in Libya or Iraq, if for no 

other reason than to show bullies in 
Phoenix and New Orleans that 
nothing good can come from playing 
with explosives. 


They brought ruin on themselves 
because for seventy-four years they 
forgot that money is God. 


Always preceded by "enlight- 
ened." Worthy cause. The Puritan 
forefathers believed that God's grace 
revealed itself as property. 


Great man. Praise him without 
stint. The eighteenth-century avatar 
of Bill Gates. 


Word applied to people, never to 
hotels or automobiles. 


Indispensable. Hard to remember 
how one got along without it. 


Necessary check on inflation. 


Victorian boarding school at 
which the United States has accept- 
ed the post of headmaster. 


Once imagined as a place, or at 
least as a possible destination. Now 
understood as a state of mind and an 
escape from stres:, as near at hand as 
a prescription for Prozac or the next 
plane to Florida. 


Best practiced by the poor, who 
have more need of it. 


The only important ones involve 
large corporations, not nation-states. 


None of them believe what they 
write. They drive expensive cars and 
subsist on shiitake mushrooms. 

Should be privatized. (See CIA.) 


Corrupt country in Africa. Proves 
the futility of giving money to people 
who don't understand it. Once fa- 
mous for elephants. h 

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Average percentage increase in the national homicide rate for every one percent increase in the unemployment rate : 5.6 

dumber of serious crimes prevented by every $1 miUion spent incarcerating repeat felons, according to a RAND study : 61 

Number prevented by every $1 million spent on high-school graduation incentives : 258 

Percentage of federal spending on entitlement programs that goes to programs for the poor s 23 

Percentage of budget cuts to entitlements made by the 104th Congress that will come from those programs ; 93 

Ratio of U.S. defense spending to the combined total spent by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and Libya : 2:1 

Chances that a dollar of foreign aid is spent in the U.S. : 4 in 5 

Percentage change since January 1995 in the amount of food the average Mexican family eats : -29 

Amount that "side agreements" in NAFTA require the U.S. to spend on environmental cleanup : $1,500,000,000 

Amount the U.S. had spent by the end of 1996 : 

Percentage return on investment that a person who smuggles cocaine into Miami can expect : 300 

Percentage return on investment that a person who smuggles Freon into Miami can expect : 1,200 

A.mount that is being spent by the federal and state governments to preserve the Florida panther, per panther : $4,800,000 

Amount that is being spent to preserve the painted snake coil forest snail, per snail : $1.17 

Percentage of Americans who believe that Joan of Arc is Noah's wife : 12 

Price paid at an Indiana auction last September for a 1975 Ford Escort previously owned by Pope John Paul II : $102,000 

Price paid at a Los Angeles auction last September for a drug-rehab discharge form signed by Kurt Cobain : $1,150 
i Percentage of the heroin and cocaine consumed each year that is consumed by people on bail, probation, or parole : 60 

Number of times that the mother-in-law of Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry has run for president : 2 

vmount that Western Village, a Japanese theme park, spent constructing an 80-foot replica of Mount Rushmore : $30,000,000 

Tons of rock that Alabama has imported in the last two years for chain gangs to crush : 188 

Number of minor planets named after rock musicians : 8 

Amount that image consultancy Double XXposure charges to teach etiquette to hip-hop and rap artists, per class s $250 

Year in which Tupperware salespeople began to say that air is "whispered" out of containers rather than "burped" : 1990 

Number of years the mother in the Family Circus cartoon had the same hairstyle before changing it last year : 36 

Hours of training required to become a licensed hair braider in New York City : 900 

Hours of training required to become a New York City emergency medical technician : 1 17 

Percentage of Americans who believe that career preparation should begin in elementary school : 18 

Percentage of children between 6 and 9 who know that Jerry Lewis was the star of the original Nutty Professor : 66 

Chances that an American adult knows how long it takes the Earth to orbit the sun : 1 in 2 

Chances that a public-high-school student is taught physical sciences by a teacher without a science background s 1 in 2 

Percentage of public-high-school teachers who favor banning students from kissing and hugging on school grounds s 69 

Percentage of the light switches in Bob Packwood's private Senate quarters that were on dimmers : 100 

Number of Shakespeare's 37 plays that West Virginia senator Robert Byrd has quoted on the Senate floor : 37 

Number of seconds that the average person can wait for an elevator before becoming visibly agitated ; 40 

Chances that a patient on the national waiting list for an organ will receive one this year : 1 in 3 

bst of a 1 -pound, anatomically correct, chocolate human heart replica, from the Anatomical Chart and Model Catalog : $16.95 

Number of candy hearts that the New England Confectionery Company made last year : 8,000,000,000 

Number that said, "Fax Me" i 1,700,000 

Figures cited have been adjusted jor inflation and are the latest available as of December J 996. Sources are listed on page 76. 

"Harper's Index" is a registered trademark. 




"This is a nasty book . . ." 
— New York Times Book Review 

"Gene Lyons is more 

than just wrong." 

— The American Spectator 

"[Lyons] makes a strong 
case that the whole White- 
water business is 'possibly the 
most politically charged case 
of journalistic malpractice in 
recent American history.' " 
— The Atlantic Monthly 

"Lyons ofters the first fully cred- 
ible version of what happened." 
— New York magazine 

"Lyons sounds like the last sane 
voice in the diti of the asylum." 
— The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

"Lyons doesn't claim that the Clin- 
tons never did anything wrong, but 
he convincingly shows that many 
[Whitewater] charges against them 
are exaggerated, politically motivated 
or flat-out wrong" 
— The [Cleveland] Plam Dealer 

"Lyons attacks with the same zeal that New York 
Times columnist William Satire displays when he goes 
after public officials whose veracity he doubts. The 
result has been indignation in the media and a coun- 
terattack on Lyons 's credibility." 
— Christian Science Monitor 

'Drawing on years of newspaper- 
ing, Lyons catalogs a disturbing 
ist of mistakes and omissions 
that he found in stories by the 
national press, especially [the] 
New York Times ..." 
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 

"[His] book, which follows a 
earlier Harper's Magazine ar- 
ticle, adds to the growing 
and legitimate argument 
that America's mainstrean 
press, far from being ideo- 
ogical, has simply gone 
— Los Angeles Times Boo/'j 

"Guaranteed to make 

you mad . . . Gene Lyon5 

and Harper's Magazine 

ought to have a 

Pulitzer for digging at 

the rot in the political press, but th 

press will see they don't get one." — Arkansas Times 

"[A] timely, important book." — Publishers Weekly 

"He demonstrates pretty convincingly that the Time 
investigative reporter who broke the story ignored o: 
didn't understand crucial information . . ." 

— Newsckiy 

"An excellent exegesis of Whitewater." 
— Molly Ivins 

Availahl; at Banics & Nohk, Border's, Waldenhonks, 

Crown Bookstores, and other fine bookstores nationwide. 

Also avaikihle thronp^h the H;irper's Magazine Bookshelf advertisement . 

PAPER, $9.95 







From "Dirty Dealing," by Jeffrey St. Clair and 
Alexander Cockburn, in the Fall J 996 issue of 
Forest Voice, published in Eugene, Oregon. The 
authors examined the environmental proposals and 
"deals" that President Clinton announced in the 
months prior to last Islovember's election; they then 
outlined the "hidden costs" of each action. 

THE DEAL: In August, just weeks before the 
Democratic Convention, Clinton traveled to 
Yellowstone to announce that the oldest park 
in the nation had been saved from predations 
on its northern border by the Canadian mining 
giant, Noranda. In exchange for dropping its 
plan to gouge out a sc]|uare-mile hole in Mon- 
tana's Beartooth Mountains in search of gold, 
Clinton offered the company $65 million 
worth of federal properties elsewhere. The na- 
tional press faithfully depicted Clinton as the 
savior of Yellowstone. 

THE COST: The salvation of YelK)wstnne is 
far from a done deal. It turns out that Noranda 
has veto power over any of the federal proper- 
ties offered, and the feds cannot find enough 
land to Noranda's taste in Montana. If the 
search is to be extended outside the state, it 
will require congressional approval, which — 
given the secrecy and speed with which the 

deal was hatched — is uiilikely to happen soon, 
if ever. Indeed, Montana's Republican senator, 
Conrad Burns, has already vowed to kill any 
such maneuver. 

Even if Noranda's land demands are met, 
talk of Yellowstone's salvation is both prepos- 
terous and premature. The mining sites that 
the company planned represent but a handful 
of the more than six thousand gold-mining 
claims in the Yellowstone ecosystem, any one 
of which could pose an equivalent threat to the 
region's rivers, mountains, and wildlife. 

Moreover, the proposed Noranda exchange 
has given a green light to anyone holding 
mining claims around Yellowstone or any oth- 
er national park: line up the bulldozers in 
front of the park gates and wait for the White 
House to phone with a lucrative buyout offer. 
Indeed, orily days after the President's appear- 
ance at Yellowstone, a Wyoming company 
filed 175 mining claims along the ecologically 
pristine Rocky Mountain Front east of Glacier 
National Park. 

THE DEAL; On the eve of the convention, 
Clinton, framed by a clutch of children, signed 
into liw the Food Quality Protection Act. "I 
call this the Peace of Mind Act, because par- 
ents will know that the fruits, grains, and veg- 
etables children eat are safe," Clinton pro- 
no, inced. "Chemicals can go a long way in a 
siKiH body." The press hailed the new act for 
Us successful annulment of the Delaney Clause, 
a law long targeted by cheinical manufacturers, 


who claim that its restrictions are archaic. 

THE COST; Perhaps the most outlandish of all 
of the President's pre-election j^randstandings, 
the Food Quality Protection Act does to puh- 
lic-health and environmental-protection laws 
what Clinton's sij^ninj^ of the Welfare Act did 
to the New Deal — it hollows them out. 

What's especially galling is that Clinton jus- 
tified the act — like the welfare hill — in the 



From a report on exterior structural problems at 
various New York City public schools, prepared in 
February 1996 by the city's Board of Education. 
The board found that 237 of the city's 1 ,165 
schools contained "immediately hazardous" condi- 
tions. In November, the city's teachers union ob- 
tained the report and eruered it as evidence in an 
ongoing Liwsuit that seeks to force the board to re- 
pair the schools. 

Bronx High School of Science: cracks in walls 

and chimney; windows fall down when opened 
J.H.S. 136, the Bronx: 90 percent of windows 

need replacing 
J.H.S. 293, Brooklyn: termites and dry rot in 

window casings 
P.S. II, Staten Island: exterior walls cracked; 

chipping bricks around building 
P.S. 115, Manhattan: crack 12 feet long and 

3/4 inches wide in exterior masonry 
P.S. 123, Queens: chimney cracked 
P.S. 137, Manhattan: loose masonry; school has 

erected protective .scaffolding on sidewalks 
P.S. 156, the Bronx: severe water damage in 

windows and walls 
P.S. 164, Manhattan: falling windowpanes 
P.S. 197, Brooklyn: capstone blown off north 

P.S. 22 3, Queens: parapets hazardous due to 

falling pieces of brick 
P.S. 340, Brooklyn: windows rotting and deteri- 
P.S. 380, Brooklyn: windows leaking badly 
School of Career Development, Brooklyn: 

some windows boarded up 
Washington Irving High School, Manhattan: 

loose masonry; school has erected safety nets 

around building 

name of children. Since 1958, the Delaney 
Clause had imposed an absolute ban on car- 
cinogens in processed food, a restriction that 
food and chemical companies tried to over- 
throw for almost forty years. From day one of 
the administration, EPA director Carol Brown- 
er set her sights on gutting Delaney, calling the 
law unenforceable and an unnecessary bin\len 
t)n the marketplace. 

in the future, regulatory interdicts against 
carcinogens will be replaced by "cost-benefit 
analyses" and "risk assessments," determina- 
tions on the number of "acceptable" incidents 
of cancer traceable to foods. Under the new 
act, food- and chemical-industry scientists will 
play a major role in those deterininaticMis. 

THE DEAL: The convention safely behind 
him, the intrepid President made his way to 
the north rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona 
to announce that 1 .8 million acres of federal 
lands in southern Utah known as the Escalante 
Canyon would now be designated a National 
Monument, supposedly saving the canyon frt)m 
being strip-mined for coal. TV and newspaper 
coverage presented this as an event as momen- 
tous as the finest preservationist acts of Teddy 

THE COST: Much star ptiwer was on hand in 
Arizona. There on the ntirth rim of the 
Grand Canyon, Clinton was introduced by 
Robert Redford, who called Clinton's im- 
pending proclamation an act of great spiritual 
and moral courage. As the President preened 
before the cameras, some environmentalists 
watched in amazement. Surely their position 
had long been that no less than 5.7 million 
acres, not 1.8, should be designated as wilder- 
ness or national park. In fact, the Utah campaign had been lavishly fund- 
ed by environmental supporters with this end 
in mind. 

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt confessed 
later that afternoon that the designation of the 
Escalante Canyon was "mainly a name thing," 
and that National Monument status (unlike 
park or wilderness status) does nt)t preclude 
cattle grazing, off-road-vehicle use, or hunting. 
When pressed. Babbitt also admitted that 
nothing in the proclamation actually prevent- 
ed the coal-mining companies from moving 
forward with their claims. 

Mainstream environmentalists rationalized 
the proclamation by saying that Clinton 
would come back in his second term, upgrade 
the designation from monument to wilderness 
or park, and include the missing 4 million 
acres. But Babbitt dashed those hopes by 
telling reporters that "this won't happen for 


From Wood, by Andy Goldsworthy , published by Harry N. Abrams. Goldsworthy uses materials he finds 
in nature to create outdoor sculptures, which he then photographs. He lives in Dumfriesshire , Scotland. 

THE DEAL: Then the White House team was 
off to the Pacific Northwest, boarding Grey- 
hound One in Seattle and heading south down 
Interstate 5 to Portland. There, under the 
alpenglow of Mount Hood, Clinton declared 
that he was saving the region's old-growth 
forests by working out a deal whereby timber 
companies would desist from logging the an- 
cient groves inhabited by marbled murrelets. In 
exchange, they would receive permits to log 
equivalent volumes of timber on other national 
forestlands in Washington and Oregon. 

THE COST: Usually a Clinton visit firompts at 
least a token demonstration from the timber 
industry, but this time the timber companies 
were ecstatic over the deal they had just bro- 
kered with the administration. The industry 
was not only given the right to cut the volume 
of logs it wanted but to do so without pesky 
contentions over the murrelet and with active 
support and encouragement from the White 
House. More significant, the timber will still be 
old-growth, but because it will be on less pro- 

ductive sites, the logging companies will have 
to clear-cut twice as many acres of forest to get 
the "equivalent volume" they've been 

THE DEAL: Finally came a strong White 
House push for a deal that would allow Clin- 
ton to announce before the election that he 
had protected from destruction the precious 
Headwaters Grove in northern California, the 
last privately owned stand of virgin redwoods 
in America. The owner of Headwaters, 
Charles Hurwitz, originally acquired the grove 
in a hostile junk-bond takeover. In 1995, he 
was accused by the government of looting a 
savings and loan in Texas at a cost to taxpay- 
ers of $1.6 billion. Rather than confiscate his 
timberlands as a down payment on that debt, 
Clinton offered a fast deal to acquire the 
grove, promising, again, comperisatory proper- 
ties. The national press asked no questions 
about this impending payoff to an infamous 
corporate raider. 


II 11-; COST: Ihirwirz's part of the deal in- 
vdUcs handinj^ over t)nly the core Headwaters 
Grove and a small Hiittcr are.i, probably no 
more than 5,200 acres out of the 60,000 he 
owns. In return, he's asked tor everything irom 
San Francisco's historic Presidio to Treasure 
Island. In December, the state offered him a 
lucrative package that included the y,000'acre 
Latour State Forest, but, embt)ldened by the 
spinelessness of the Clinton crowd, Hurwitz 
wanted to wait for the lands to be appraised. 
Mainstream environmental groups such as the 
Sierra Cdub are playing along; Sierra's execu- 
tive director, Carl Pope, signaled early that he 
was ready to sign o{{ tm the Presidio and more 
federal properties: "We would be delighted to 
see soine of those assets which are truly surplus 
trai.lei.1 for something as precious and wtinder- 
ful as the 1 leai.lwaters." Once again, the right 
to loot high-profile public assets is being ex- 
changed for the right to loot other, less visible 
pLiblic assets. Clinton has mastered the act of 
making such deals look like righteous policy, 
but what's really getting trailed are the na- 
tion's environmental concerns. 

|C A)nlrabani.l| 


Fnnn d lisi oj iicms rcimivcd jrom ihc cell of Ernest 
"Smokey" Wilson over a ihirty-diiy [xniod in 1992 
by i^uards at the maximum'Security Stateville Cor- 
rectional Center in]oliet, Illinois. In a plea harp^ain 
with state Inosecntors last year, Wilson, a ^ani^ 
Luuler who is servinj^ a life .sentence jor ordering the 
killmo oj a rii'al /jcin.y member at Statex'ille, provid- 
ed the names oj prisim ojjicials who, he said, had 
helped /inn acquire the contraband; no prison em- 
ployees have ^ic't been charged. The list was C(m\- 
piled /roni /)ri.S()n reports obtained by the Chicago 
Tribune (oui tippcarcd in the paper's hltnxnnber 
10, 199b, issue. 

Septen\hey I '> 

CA'llular li'k'phone batter\' charger aiul 4 

(.fllular telephone batteries 
C'asio 2-inch color tele\asiori 
Ninteni.lo Came Boy with cartrklges 
Electronic chess gaiiK' 
Flectnc iron 
Electric skillet 
2 hot i^ots 
I ^ bottles bigbpiiced cologne 

Seplember IS 
MoioroLi ]H-n pager 

^ marijuana cigarette butts 
1/2 gram ct)caine 
V4 gram heroin 
32 small plastic bags 
Remote control for VCR 
Tube of Krazy Glue 

October 4 

Cellular telephone battery charger, battery, 

and adapter 
Electrt)nic digital scale 

Oct<j/x'r 14 

Cellular telephone battery charger, battery, 

and adapter 
Digital wristwatch with memory bank 
Electric coffee pot 
15.7 grams cocaine 
$230 cash 

2 glass bottles broken intt) pieces 
Miniature basketball backboard, rim, and net 

October 14~15 

52 unauthorized articles of clothing 

1 3-inch color television 

('able converter 

AM/FM stereo receiver, stereo equalizer, 

cassette tape player, turntable, and (S-track 

tape deck 
Power microphone 
Clock radio 
Remote-control piirtable lamp 

17 self-addressed stamped envelopes to Talman 
Federal Savings and Loan 

18 mail-in withdrawal slips 

3 savings-and-loan receipts 
City of Chicago check stubs 

hems reawered at unkmncn times 
C^'llular telephone 
6-inch hunting knife 
Homemade darts with needle pcnnts 
Portable tabletop washing machine (recovered 



Fnmi "Your 100 Best Conservative Movies," by 
Spencer Warren, in the March 1 1, 1996. issue of 
The National Review. The list is composed pri- 
marily oj sufis.esti(ms front (fie Review's readers. 

BOMB: The Bc'.qinnin.q or the End {\947) and 
A/'oi'c and Beycmd (1953). Both notable for 
then- contrast to ABC''s vile docnmentary on 

IS llAKri;R',sM.\c;.A/INi:/ll-.hlU;AKV 1W7 



rom a sl7Ils o/ jihotni^iaj'hs by Jonathan Etks o/ /ilatcs in \tiuih Limdan where ernncs allein^edh tieLuried At top are "Threatening to 
il and Asiauk , at bottom are Attempted Abduetion of a Minor" and "Attempted Robbery." Eeles's photog)-aphs were originally 
)mmissioned by defense lawyers to be used as evidence in court. They appeared in the November 24, 1996, issue of The Sunday 
•eview, the magazine of the London Independent. 

the Enola Gay mission and other press attacks 
on this necessary feat of American arms. The 
first fihn is important because it points out that 
the success of the $2 billion Manhattan Project 
was really a triumph of free enterprise. Not on- 
ly scientists but "men, women, builders, car- 
penters, electricians," all knowing little alK)ut 
the project, met the challenfj;e by "workinj^, 
working, working." 

TO SUCCEED: The Southerner (1945). Dramatizes 
the faith, love, and determination that unite 
sharecropper's family against terrible adversity. 
Sharecropper's uncle collapses in the field and 
dies in the man's arms with the words "Grow 
your own crops." 

The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936). In this 

Errol Flynn epic, a British commander accepts 
a treacherous enemy's pledge of safe passage for 
innocent men, women, and children. All are 
slaughtered. Should be required viewing tor all 
hostage negotiators. 

INNOCENT LIFE: Rnh Roy (1995). Our hero's wife 
is raped by his enetny, but Rob Roy embraces 
the child she conceives as an innocent life that 
must be brought into the world. 

VIEW OF PENOLOGY: The Big House (1930). Still 
among the best prison dramas. The inmates 
liere have no radio and no weight room. If they 
get out of line, they are deposited in "the dun- 
geon," where they stew alone for thirty days on 
bread and water. And when they riot and take 
guards hostage, the warden answers their de- 




This poster was designed by Anatoly Belsky for the J 932 Russian film (Joryachaya Krov ("Hot-Blooded") but was rejected because it did ij 
"conform to officially approved artistic styles." It appears in Film Posters of the Russian Avant-Garde, by Susan Pack, published by Taschen 

mand for freedom thus: "I'll see 'em in hell 
first. Let 'em have it!" Whereupon machine 
guns open fire and tanks crash through the in- 
mates' barricades. Was the lower crime rate in 
those days just a coincidence? 

(1994). Portrays the last gasp of European anti- 
Americanism — the Soviet-inspired campaign to 
half U.S. missile deployment in the early Eight- 
ies — through the eyes of two young Americans 
trying to pick up Spanish girls. Good fun. 

The Thing (1951). The scientist as Rational 
Fool. Researchers in the Arctic defrost an un- 
friendly visitor from outer space. Here is an 
early prototype of the scientists who oppose 
any commonsense policy to defend ourselves, 
such as those behind the nuclear freeze. 

POLITICIANS: A Face in the Croiwl (1957). This 
will stand as the best depiction of an Arkansas 
demagogue until Barbra Streisand produces a 
movie biography of the forty-second President. 






From "Gary Franks: An African Ainerican Gladi- 
ator Falls in Battle," an open letter written by Rep- 
resentative William Clay (D., Mo.) after last No- 
vember's election and distributed to members of the 
Congressional Black Caucus. Frartks was the only 
Republican member of the caucus and had clashed 
with the g)X)up politically, particularly over his pro- 
posal to ban race-based congressiorial districting. 


lection Day 1996 is now history, and the 
voters chose to return most members of Con- 
gress for another two years. One member not so 
fortunate was the black representative from 
Contiecticut, Gary Franks. Franks's foot-shuf- 
fling, head-scratching, Amos-and-Andy brand 
of Uncle Tomism came to an end when the 


few minority voters in his district joined with 
an overwhehning number of white voters, fi- 
nally tired of his racist assaults on black people, 
to defeat his bid for reelection. 

Franks's six years in Congress were high- 
lighted by his support of legislation inimical to 
the interests of most black folk. Like a growing 
number of black opportunists, Franks served as 
a cheap "gun for hire," willing to assassinate 
those blacks who seek an equitable distribution 
of political power. 

What black politics needed most in the 
1990s was a core group of black Republicans 
who would promote black causes and give 
black voters a real choice between the two po- 
litical parties. What we got instead were 
stereotypical black Republicans, cloned in the 
radical images of Newt Gingrich, Jerry Falwell, 
and Pat Robertson. Franks joined in their con- 
spiracy to make the Republican Party a safe 
harbor for the bigots of America. 

There is an emerging cadre of highly educat- 
ed, articulate black professionals who profit 
handsomely by attacking African-American 
leaders and by ridiculing civil-rights legislation. 
Although their numbers are minuscule, the 
media treat them as if they speak for large con- 
stituencies. They are well-paid, widely publi- 
cized gladiators, commissioned by sinister 
forces to destroy government programs that up- 
lift the poor and downtrodden. 

The white community has discovered the 
Achilles' heel of many black professionals. To 
solidify support for programs against black peo- 
ple, it is necessary only to wine and dine some 
blacks at exclusive country clubs and fancy 
restaurants. Somehow, oysters Rockefeller and 
clams casino turn miseducated black men's 
brains into receptive sponges ready to soak up 
the latest anti-black invective. 

My concern with the vanquished Gary 
Franks goes much deeper than abhorring his 
slave-like rhetoric. It has to do with the fact 
that he is a self-hating black who is afraid to 
confront racism or racists seriously. Not once 
during his highly publicized career did Franks 
raise his voice — feeble as it was — in meaning- 
ful protest of the abusive treatment heaped up- 
on blacks. Not once did he support other black 
members of Congress in a broad-based assault 
against white bigotry. Not once did he open his 
eyes to de facto racial discrimination. 

Though he's gone from Congress, Gary 
Franks is still a threat because of his insuffer- 
able capacity to demean the causes of African 
Americans. He, like the other so-called new 
black conservatives, has been thoroughly 
brainwashed by those who preach that race is 
not an impediment to equal opportunity. He 
has no discernible black personality. 



From "The Mania for Native Plants in Nazi Ger- 
many," by ]oachim Wolschke-Bulmahn, in Con- 
crete Jungle, to be published next month by Juno 
Books. Wolschke-Bulmahn teaches garden history 
at the University of Hannover in Germany. 


.n current gardening and landscape design, 
the vogue is for "native plants." Rodale's All- 
Neu! Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, pub- 
lished in 1992, defines a wildflower garden as 
"a place where plants native to the United 
States are arranged in pleasing design and 
grown under conciitions to support their natur- 
al state." In hundreds of such gardening books 
and magazines, "foreign" or "exotic" plants are 
condemned as alien invaders or aggressive in- 

There is, however, much disagreement on 
what constitutes a "native" plant. According to 
Rodale's, "Most people use their state bound- 
aries as cut-off points for plant selection. Others 
consider any plant native to North America to 
be acceptable." The idea of using only plants 
representative of a particular state or country 
may be an interesting garden motif, but it has 
nothing at all to do with nature and nativeness. 

In the United States, for example, do we de- 
fine a plant as native if it is assumed to have 
grown in a region before European settlement? 
Do we ask if Native Americans brought the 
plant with them when they crossed the land 
bridge from Siberia? Are we dealing with the 
past hundred, five hundred, or a thousand years? 

The native-plants ideology is highly political: 
its advocates sometimes connect the call tor na- 
tive plants with nationalistic and racist ideas 
about societ\ . Alwin Seifert, a leading land- 
•scape architect in Nazi Germany, was the most 
radical promoter of native plants. He argued 
that Germans had to respect their landscape's 
poverty of species as its national destiny. In 
1933, immediately after the Nazi takeover, 
Seifert wanted to "ban all that until now has 
pleased the heart of a gardener: everything 
high-bred, overfed, conspicuous, fc^reign." 

In 1941, German landscape architects pro- 
posed a law forbidding the use of foreign plants 
in German landscapes. Oiie year later, a team of 
German botanists called for the extermination of 
/ni/)atien,s parviflora. a small forest plant that was 
seen as a stranger atid a competitor of the "na- 
tive" Jmpatiens noh tangere. The botanists applied 
a social analogy: "As with the fight against Bol- 


shevism, our entire iKcidental culture is at stake, 
S(i with the tij^ht against this Mongolian invader, 
an essential element ot this culture, namely, the 
heauty oi our home forest, is at stake." 

Racist arguments tor the exclusive use of na- 








z 10 

• Non-homophobic males 
Homophobic males 

.67 1.33 


2.67 3.33 4.0 


.67 1.33 2.0 2.67 3.33 4.0 


From "h Homaphohia Associated with Homosexual 
Arousal!" a study h^ Henry F. Adams et al. m the Au- 
gust l^'^6 Jiiurnal of Ahnormal Psychology. The above 
g,raphs show the difference in sexual arousal hetiueen 
"non-homophobic" {line with squares) aiui "homophobic" 
(plain line) heterosexual men upon the viewing of "sexual- 
ly explicit" heterosexual videos (top) and male homosexu- 
al videos (bottom). First, study participants completed 
psychological questumnaires to deteiimne the level of their 
homophobia, then wore a peniL' "strain gauge" to measure 
the change in their penile circumference while viewing the 
videos. Researchers found that the homophobic group 
"dem<mstrateldj significant sexmd arousal to male homo- 
erotic stimuli"; furthermore , "the cmly (statisticallyl signif- 
icant difference" m hoiv "tunted-on" the two groups were 
was m to the male homosexual video. 

five plants have appeared in the United States 
as well. In 1937, American landscape architect 
Jens Jensen wrote: 

The gardens that I create myself shall ... be in 
h.irmony with their landscape environment and 
the racial characteristics of its inhabitants. They 
shall express the spirit of America and therefore 
shall be free of foreign character as far as possible. 
The Latin and the Oriental crept and creeps more 
and more over our land. . . . 

Similar ideas flourish even in today's discus- 
sion of native plants. The hook Landscaping 
with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest, 
published in 1991, explains that "plants are a 
part of our great national heritage. The plants 
that have sunk their roots in Southwest soil 
since the last Ice Age can help us understand 
that our psyches and society are equally rooted 
to the earth." In other books, characterizations 
such as "invasive exotic weeds," "nonindige- 
nous invasive weeds," "exotic-species inva- 
sions," and "foreign invaders" are common. 

There are good reasons for using native 
plants in gardens, including low maintenance, 
adaptation to place, preservation from extinc- 
tion, and aesthetics. However, there is no rea- 
son for a native-plant doctrine, nor tor the as- 
sumption that native plants alone serve 
environmental goals. The segregation into 
"good" and "bad" plants, natives and nonna- 
tives, and the condemnation of the latter as ag- 
gressive invaders are highly simplistic notions, 
masking problems instead of solving them. 



From Dancing with Mr. D, by Dr. Bert Keizer, 
to he published in March by Nan A. Talese/Dou- 
hleday . Keizer is a physician at a home for the aged 
and the terminally ill in Amsterdam. Although doc- 
tor-assisted suicides are not legal in the Nether- 
lands , since 1 98 1 they have gone unprosecuted as 
long as physicians follow court-ordered guidelines; 
among other stipulations, the request for death 
must be voluntary, the patient must he experienc- 
ing "unbearable pain," and there must be no other 
"reascmahle solutions to the problem." Translated 
from the Dutch by the author. 


A m^ichard Schoonhoven: titty-tive-year-old 
widower, incurable throat cancer. He arrived 
today from Het Veem Hospital. The nurses' 
notes sent with him say, "Mr. Schoonhoven 
has been asking for death these past few weeks 



jf' .r^: 


The Glenlivet Single M^lt:M 

hut the doctors have not responded to that." 

hi the doctor's notes I read a lot ahout laho- 
ratory tests and X rays; I also read that Mr. 
Schoonhoven is aware of his diagnosis. There's 
not one word ahout his death wish. Doctors of- 
ten rej^ard such a wish as a tiny sore — not 
much of a bother riyht now, hardly worth men- 
tioning, hut something that might rum ex- 
treitiely nasty at some point. 



From an interview with Finnish writer Fetter Saira- 
nen in the Summer 1996 issue of The Review of 
Contemporary Fiction, a sfKcial issue devoted to 
new Finnish fiction. Sairanen is the author of Fire- 
light, a novel, and The World Is Useless, a play. 
The interview was conducted by Philip Landon, 
who asked Sairanen to characterize amtemporary 
Finnish jict ion. 


or thousands of years, the Finns have strug- 
gled against the ct)ld. The enemy was huge and 
perpetual, but we grew fond of it. And we had a 
secret weapon against it: the sauiia. After a 
sauna, the cold seemed like a tolerable adver- 
sary, even a dear one. Yt)u could feel confident 
as you fought in its grip when you knew the 
sauna was warming at home. 

But the modern world has conciuered the 
weather. Eiiergy has been scjuandered with ad- 
mirable success. Palm trees decorate the corri- 
dors of the shopping malls; tropical soundtracks 
stimulate their growth. 

Nowadays, Finiis do nor know how to live 
becaLise rhey are not allowed to wrestle with 
their darhng enemy, the cold. We live in rooms 
where the temperature is always the same, won- 
dering what has gone wrong. We feel empty. 
This predicament also manifests irself in our 

The characters in our novels and short sto- 
ries are often hollow, unable to decide what 
they want, unable to fathom the cause of their 
emptiness. This sort of fiction is also commoii 
in other countries of conspicuous consumptiim. 
Of course, other countries may not ha\'e con- 
quered the cold — they have more temperate 
climates. But they have all conquered some- 
thing, and they used to be just as fond of that 
adversary as we Finns were of the fi' ist. They 
feel equally bewildered. And hollow. 

When I go to shake hands with Mr. 
Sclmonhoven he says imrnediately, "Doctor, 1 
want to die. Please help me." 

"But didn't ytni this with the doctors 
at the hospital?" 

"1 did, but they ignored me." He begins to 
sob uncontrollably. 1 soothe him as best 1 can, 
then go call Het Veem. 

What happened.' Schoonhoven was hospital- 
ized for a throat operation. On admission they 
agreed not to resuscitate him if he went into 
cardiac arrest. During the operation something 
went horribly wrong: a sizable amount of tissue 
fell down into the trachea, causing respiratory 
arrest. They couldn't get the lump out arid so 
performed a tracheotomy. Then he went into 
cardiac arrest, and without a moment's hesita- 
tion they began to resuscitate him. 

That was wrong, but I can sympathize with 
it. It must be impossible in such a situation 
simply to say, Oh, what the hell, he didn't want to 
he resuscitated anyway. But when he came to, 
he had lost almost all power of speech and still 
had the tube from the tracheotomy sticking out 
of his throat. Also, as a consequence of his 
brain having been without blood for a while, 
his left arm and leg were paralyzed. 

As soon as he was awake again and fully 
aware of his situation, he asked for death. The 
doctors were reluctant. They didn't say yes and 
didn't say no, and in the end nothing hap- 
pened. Then, in his despair, he began to ask 
everybody for death, all the time — day in, day 
out. This got on the dtictors' nerves. 

On the day we've arranged for him to die, I 
find Schoonhoven in a sprightly mood, almost 
cheerful. At 9:00 A.M. he's sitting in bed, shav- 
ing himself, "so the nurse doesti't have to do it 
later on." 

At 10:00 A.M. 1 enter with the hemlock. 
Schoonhoven's daughter is there. He is in full 
control of the situation. "Is that what I have to 
drink.' Just hand it to me, will you.'" 

Although we do our best to support him up- 
right while he drinks, he's a little too hasty and 
is seized by a coughing fit, during which at least 
half of what he swallowed comes sputtering out 
the tube in his throat. But he soon gestures that 
he wants to go on drinking, and when I see the 
great effort with which he raises the cup to his 
lips, I realize how horribly ill he must be feeling 
to be able to drink death so eagerly in the pres- 
ence of his child. We lay him back on the pil- 
lows, and his daughter sits next to him. He 
looks at her calmly and asks, "How am I doing?" 

She laughs through her tears and strokes his 
face, speaks softly to him. "Now you're going to 
Cjerrie . . . and to Adrie . . . and to Mummy . . . 
and to Susha." 


"Waiting," by Cinannad artist January Knoop. Knoop created the sculpture from the teeth and bones of various animals, mchiding cows, 
iheep, and chipmunks. The sculpture was on display in December at the University of Cincinnati . 

At "Susha" he immediately opens his eyes. 
"But that's a cat!" 

"Hush now," she says. "I'm sure they take 
cats there." 

He mutters once more in surprise, "A cat . . . ," 
then shrugs his shoulders with a smile. That's 
his last gesture. Ten minutes later he is dead. 

We linger in the room for a while, looking at 
him. His daughter tells me that yesterday she 
thought he might die during the night. She 
would have felt let down, she says, as if he had 
ahandoned her. 

Soon after, a receptionist calls to say that 
some relations of Mr. Schoonhoven have ar- 
rived and would like to have a word with me. 
Unpleasant surprise. Although all is well, 1 do 
feel caught in the act. A mad nephew oi 
cousin.' His neighbors, it turns out. I tell them 
he died this morning, and the woman asks, 
"Did he suffer much, doctor?" 1 tell her that he 
passed away quietly. The woman takes my 
hands and says, "You helped him a little, didn't 
you? I hope you did, he wanted to die so hadly. 
God, how ill he was." 

I could have kissed her, because one of the 

most exhausting things about these planned 

deaths is the doubt that always gnaws 

A at you: is this really what he wants? 
ns Van Duin is forty-six. She's been at 
St. Ossius for nearly eight years now. She has 
multiple sclerosis. The disease has almost 
blinded her due to a tenacious inflammation of 
the retina. She has no husband or children. 
She herself is an only child; her parents visit 
her every day. Today 1 find her father crying in 
the corridor. 

His wife was feeding Ans, he tells me, and 
apparently she wasn't paying attention, be- 
cause she held the fork in midair tor a moment, 
and Ans, unable to see it, tried to reach the 
food with her mouth. The sight of that had up- 
.set him. 

It might be that Ans is slowly moving to- 
ward ending her lite. She has mentioned it a 
few times to me, very cautiously. Her disease 
has now advanced to the stage where she can't 
sit up, and she thinks it has gone far enough. 

1 will teel all right it that's her decision and 



Bt Philip'Lnrca diCJorcw. I he ph()U)f:^■aph was im (lis/ild^ last September at the I'aeeWiidenstemMacUill gallery in New York City. Ui'Corcl 
lives in New York City . 

won't even tear the last five minutes, which are 
aKvays difficult moments for me. It's because 
she's blind. 1 won't feel so watched; I'll be able 
to waver more. 

Ans wants the beaker. She asks me to tell 
her something' tunny at the end, "then I'll ^o 
oLit lauyhinjj;." She doesn't want her parents 
mixed up in these negotiations in any way. "It's 
toil much for them. I'm theu- only child, you 
know. 1 can't ask them to approve this." 

She tells me a childhood memory. She suf- 
fered from not havinjj; a brother or sister. 'When 
it was sLippertmie and all the chUdren were 
called inside, she would pretend that she had a 
brother and start calling out to him. "Kees! 
Kees, it's time fir supper." Her father caught her 
doing this once and hit her tor sLich nonsense. 

"No," she says. "I can't talk about all this 
with him." 

1 might think that I'm personally detached 
this time, but Ans's case is working in me all 
the same. Recently 1 had this dream: Ans is 
dead and lies in state in our parish church. 
The glass coffin lies across the altar and is 
fillcLl to the brim with Formahn. I run into mv 


colleague Dr. Mieke, who says, "Don't you 
find it a hit funny the way they've laid it all 
out.'" Then I see what she means. On the altar 
behind the ctiffin there's a collection of all 
the heart valves, the artificial hip joints, the 
vascular prostheses, and the many catheters 
that over the years have been placed in Ans's 
body; around this heap there's a veritable dike 
formed by the tens of thousands of pills she 
has swallowed. The mourners stand in a half- 
circle around the coffin. Then what we all 
fear happens: her leg starts moving, then she 
shoves the lid off the coffin. She clambers 
clumsily out of the aquariLUii — Snow White, 

Ans doesn't want anyone else to be present 
on the appointed day, and, as I said, I feel less 
anxious about the ritual this time because she 
is blini.1. When 1 enter at the arranged hour, 
she Liuickly turns her face toward me. The ten- 
tative reaching out in her unseeing eye imme- 
diately brings me to the verge of tears. 

When she has finished the drink, she asks, 
"Will you come and sit with me.' Can 1 hold 
\our hand.' There, that's fine." 



We talk a little about her father, always a 
difficult man. She loved her student days, until 
she got pregnant. Her father forced her, with 
all sorts of threats, to have an abortion. 

"But that was really . . . that abortion . . . 
there's a lot of alcohol in this stuff, isn't there? 
. . . That abortion was really unnecessary, be- 
cause we had money . . . and plenty of space . . . 
and things . . ." Then she slumped against me. 
"Things . . ." That was her last word. They had 
things for a child. That she should enter death 
with this little death on her lips saddens me. 

After ten minutes Mieke looks in. Ans has 

"What are you doing there, Anton?" 
1 m crying. 

"About what?" 

"About parents and children." 

"That covers just about all cate- 
gories, 1 think." 


pay a visit to Mrs. Poniatowski, one of my 
favorite patients at St. Ossius. She has asked 
me here for a glass of wine. She has lung can- 
cer. "And I certainly know why," she says, a 
cigarette dangling from her lips. 

When I enter her room she's standing by the 
window, trying to punch some extra holes in 
her belt with a pair of pliers. As she gets sicker, 
she keeps losing weight. She doesn't have the 
strength anymore to handle the pliers properly, 
so I take over for her and make another hole in 
the belt. 

"Maybe you'd better make another one?" 

Why do those pliers make such a horrible 
sound? With every click we realize more fully 
that I am punching a trajectory into this belt. 

She looks at me, and then away, as she asks, 
"How many more holes, do you think?" 

"I don't know." 

In her deathly white face her eyes seem like 
two jumpy, jet-black beads. She says she feels 
people's glances when she leaves her room. She 
thinks everybody can see the humiliating 
traces of her struggle. 

Mrs. Poniatowski's last evening. Her son Pe- 
ter doesn't want to be pre,sent. That is to say, 
not in the actual room. He has asked me a few 
times if all this really has to be handled in such 
a brutish way. He would rather see his mot'ner 
get worse, see that she's more seriously ill, near- 
er to the end, collapsing at the edge of the 
grave so that the merest push — more like a 
slight touch, really — would suffice. But not this, 
not the way she is now. Shit, she's still walking! 

I know what he's trying to say, hut I under- 
stand her better. We've arranged for Dr. Mieke 
and myself to go to her at eight o'clock. Peter 
will be in the building but not in the room. 

We go to her room at eight exactly, but she 
sends us away. She wants to watch the news 
first. Alone. 

Mieke is a little tense. "What the hell does 
she think? That she rang for a pizza?" 

After the news, she rings. When we enter 
her room she's standing by the window, "taking 
a last look at Earth." 

We say a few things to each other. 1 tell her 
that I think she's a splendid woman, and that 
I'm grateful to have met her, and that I never 
found it difficult to look after her. She tells me 
that she is proud that I was her doctor and that 
we've become friends. She gets up and gives me 
a kiss, mixed with tears, on my mouth. She 
hands me an envelope. "I've written something 
for you, copied it really, since writing is what 
you care for most." 

I'm standing there feeling rather awkward 
with my hemlock — you don't want to urge her, 
but still. She's looking in her cupboard for a 
bottle of wine that she says she wants Mieke 
and I to open immediately after her death. 

When that's all done she lies down with a 
sigh of relief and indicates that she is ready. I 
tell her it's better if she sits up, it goes down 
more easily. After a few sips through a straw she 
says, "Dear child, this straw is much too big." 
She wants the blue straw. That's better. Now 
she wants a towel to wipe the sticky stuff off her 
lips. "I want to stay clean until the very end." 

The drink finished, Mieke and I each hold 
one of her hands. 

"Look at me," she says. "Isn't this wonderful 
that I may die with two friends holding me?" 
She is about to embark on a speech about 
friendship. "Because, you two, friends are . . . 
you are . . ." Then she falls asleep, and seven 
minutes later she's dead. Oddly enough, this 
takes us by surprise. 

1 start to think that we should have puttered 
about a little longer before giving her the 
drink. Now it feels as if we've pushed her under 
in mid-sentence. Mieke does not agree. "If 
you'd got involved in a real conversation, it 
would have been more and more difficult to 
reach for the drink. And wasn't that what we 
came here for, after all?" 

It's not until I get home that I discover the 
envelope in my pocket. She has written out a 
piece of Conrad for me: 

"Droii thing life is — that mysterious arrangement 
of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most 
you can hope from it is some knowledge of your- 
self — that comes too late — a crop of unextin- 
guishable regrets. I have wrestled with death. It is 
the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It 
takes place in an impalpable greyness, with noth- 
ing underfoot, with nothing around, without 
.spectators, without clamour, without glory, with- 


out die great desire (or victory, without the great 
fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid 
scepticism, without much behef in your own 
right, and still less in that of your adversary." 

Dear Anton, Ctmrad had days when he felt bet- 
ter. But not many days, and not much 
better. Your Su:y Poniatowski. 


in t.ilkiiig to a man about his father. Father 
is ninety-two, struck down hy one of those 
strokes that make you wonder why God has to 
he so slapdash in his work. The man is almost 
totally destroyed as a person but breathes, swal- 
lows, pees, shits, and, if given a stomach tube, 
can pant on for another year. 

No one wants this, so while talking to the 
son I keep looking for a way out. 1 can't seem 
to find a solution until he says, "1 have Father's 
euthanasia card here with me. Would that be 
of any help to you?" hi a comic sketch this 
scene would continue as ftiUows: "Euthanasia 
card? Why didn't you say .so right away? Mary, 
put the patient in a single room. Henk, get out 
the morphine. Beppie, call the undertaker. 
And you, sir, all the best." 

Then that's not the way it goes? Well, yes, 
but more gradually. 



From Toolbox, a cullecdon of essays b^i Fabio 
Mordbito, published by Xenos Books. Mnrdbito 
lives in Pedregal del Maurel, Mexico. Translated 
from the Spanish hy Geoff Har^reaves. 


li is water with bad nerves. Instead of 
advancing fluidly and unproblematically like 
water, oil insinuates itself and minces along. 
Oil is water with hips. Whereas water, frank 
and anarchic, simple-minded and monotonous, 
liberates the world from its secrets, oil piles on 
secrets, like water that lost its mission in some 
cranny and forever forfeited its innocence. 

Exactly the same distinction exists between 
a nail and a screw. A screw is morose and cir- 
cumspect, like oil. It is like a lubricated nail, 
manufactured to be mindful of other materials 
and to get along with them, careful not to im- 
pose its own laws. In a screw the brusque com- 
mands of the nail have been transmuted into 
dialogue and negotiation. Hence the joints 
held by a screw are more durable. In place of 
the hostile takeover there is gentle infiltration. 

A nail is heroic and exciting. It moves in an 
epic world. A screw is ugly, torpid, asthmatic, 
having little initial impact and betraying no 
eagerness, no feeling whatsoever. But therein 
lies its strength. How is it possible to resist its 
-spiraled edges, the way it never looks you full 
in the face but t)ffers you only its perpetual pro- 
file? The threads of a screw are the absence of 
all face and all intention. How can you argue 
with it? A screw is a deluge of questions; it nev- 
er provides an answer. 

By sacrificing the excitement of entering its 
materials with a blunt incisiveness, the screw 
.secures every millimeter it gains as it advances. 
Like the snail and its delicate slime, the screw 
leaves behind, as it moves ahead, a winding 
track that guarantees it will find its way back 
cleanly, without obstacles. Thus, a second 
screw can use the same route in the future — we 
can go so far as to say that one screw is always 
another, that it is inexhaustible. 

Hence the screw is careful never to go against 
the grain. It advances via the most timid of asso- 
ciations, without the slightest stumbling, like a 
hand that caresses us in sleep, never leaving our 
skin, so that we don't awaken. Perhaps it's pre- 
cisely this innate caution in its conduct that 
gives a screw its melancholic, almost tubercular 
appearance. The screw envies the strength of 
the nail and its purity. 

In its desire to be a iiail, a screw shows a 
yearning for a lost, pristine world where every- 
thing was transparent, straightforward, obvious 
at first glance, where deals were violent but 
without subterfuge. This profound longing for a 
more fiery world is clearly visible in the head of 
a screw, a head always split painfully in two, 
like a face in frustration or a heart that's been 
deeply wounded. 



From Michael Almereyda s contribution to "Fun- 
nel Vision," a collection of plot summaries inspired 
by the movie Twister that appeared in the Fall 
1996 issue of Scenario: The Magazine of 
Screenwriting Art. Scenario asked several inde- 
pendent filmmakers to write "ivhat they would 
have done with Twister's basic premise." 
Almereyda wrote and directed Nadja, a vampire, 
film shot in part with a Fisher-Price toy camera. 

A seem to remember writing and directing a 
movie called Twister back in the spring of 
1988. The budget: $3 million. The script called 


From KiJckenkoller ("Kitchen Frenzy"), a series of photographs by Anna and Bernhard Bhime, on display last spring at the Mil- 
waukee Art Museum. The Blumes live in Cologne, Germany. 

for a brief appearance by a single tornado, but 
we opted to scratch that as we were short on 
cash and fearful that the resulting twister 
would look like something out of an Ed Wood 
movie or like the sad miniature funnel c'oud — 
generated by a vaporizer and a machine that 
seemed suitable for the production of cotton 
candy — that I once saw at the Hurricane Mu- 
seum in Key West, Florida. 

1 look forward to the inevitable double bill: 
Twister and Twister — the fat and the lean, fast 
and slow, famous and obscure — and in that 
same spirit, 1 can imagine merging and remak- 
ing both movies, two for the price of one. 

The one character I'd retain from the Jan 
De Bont picture is the Dodge Ram truck. 
Much as 1 admire the human actors in his 
Twister, 1 couldn't help noticing the absence 
of convincing emotional connections between 
them. It doesn't really matter, of course; it 
hardly takes anything away from that movie to 
admit that I felt as much empathy for the 

truck as for any of the people inside it. 

As for human protagonists, I'd he inclined 
to re-enlist two local Mid westerners, respec- 
tively the youngest and oldest cast members 
from my Twister, real troopers: Lindsay Christ- 
man and NX'illiam S. Burroughs. I'd give the 
Helen Hunt part to Burroughs, surroiuiding 
him with his usual coterie of wild boys and 
stray cats. Lindsay, with her whiskey voice and 
stoic good looks, could take on the Bill Paxton 
role. She was nine in 1988, which would put 
her at seventeen now. Vw brrting that she and 
Burroughs might have .-omechinc fo say to 
each other. Or maybe they wouldn't, and that 
could be rlie point, loo. Anyhow, i can picture 
them together in the D'odge truck, cruising 
across on tin lookoui: for strange 
weather. On occasion I'd intercut new footage 
with already existing and unimprovable shots 
from De Bont's movie. I get a certain lift pic- 
turing Bill Burroughs saying, "Cow . . . Another 
cow," then cutting ro a heifer tumbling across 



20 Carols," by (Jaryl Burtner. Burtncr cut the photos from her high school yearbooks from 1970 through 1974. Her wcrrk was on displd 
1st month at the Nexus Contemporary Art Center in Atlanta. She lives in Richmond, Virginia. 


the windshield, hi other patches, of course, 
the dialogue mij^ht have to he adjusted. I'd he 
content to let them just drive around and im- 
provise their way through it, stopping for food 
and gas and cocktails. 

[Market Analvsis] 


From "Does Your 'Research' Embrace the Boy of 
Today?" a column origiiially published in 1922 in 
Printers' Ink, an advertising trade journal. The 
column was reprinted in issue number 6 of Prima- 
ry Documents, a 'zine published by Stephen Dun- 
combe and Andrew Mattson, professors of Ameri' 
can Studies at the State University of New York at 


he first commandment ot advertising is 
Pope's dictum: "The proper study ot mankind is 
man." But the advertismg man who expects to 
hold hi-^ joh ten hence should also re- 



memher that "the hoy is father to the man." 

We hear old-timers lamenting the difference 
hetween themselves and those of us in our ear- 
ly thirties, hut we are merely a continuation of 
this older generation. The gulf that exists he- 
tween them and us is a thin line compared 
with the gulf that exists between us and the 
hoys ot today. Those old-timers read fairy tales 
like Robinson Crusoe and Aladdin; so did we. 
They went to district school to the tune of a 
hickory switch; so did we. They used a hug-me- 
tite buggy when they went a-courtin'; so did 
we. They rode in horsecars and troileycars, 
sowed wild oats, and bought a penny's worth of 
all-day suckers and licorice (when they could 
get the penny); so did we. 

But can we draw any such comparison be- 
tween ourselves and the youth of today.' 1 am 
afraid not. 

Study the boy of today. He is a tight- 
mouthed little materialist, "wise" beyond be- 
lief, keen enough in his knowledge ot human 
nature to present toward his parents the side 
that his parents desire. There is ver\' little ot 
the revolt and rebellion in him that we had 
tamed out ot us with a razor strap. 

Speed is this boy's keyncite. To him nothing 

is impossible. He looks forward to 300 miles per 
hour with confidence, when to us 60 was some- 
thing to be spoken of with awe. While he may 
read some of our boyhood literary favorites in 
order to please his parents, down in his heart it 
is "old stuff." New stories have a hold on him, 
those involving modern methods of speed, of 
wireless communication, of flying, even of 
mental telepathy. Fairy tales mean little in his 
young lite, for the actualities he sees exceed 
them. Because he is a realist and a materialist, 
the boy of today works on the principle of 
"cause and effect." He analyzes. His mind really 
thinks, quickly. 

Today's boy is a persistent and discriminat- 
ing reader of advertisements. Recently 1 
watched a group of small boys being sold on 
electric trains. There were three advertise- 
ments in one boy's magazine, and the whole 
group studied these ads. Two of the ads were 
full-page, in color, and one was a half-page. 

The half-page advertisement clinched the 
sale. It was devoted to the mechanical perfec- 
tion of the train. It was realistic. It talked to 
the boys as if they possessed a knowledge of 
mechanics. And today's boy does have a me- 
chanical knowledge undreamed of in his fa- 
ther's youth. Yes, the boy of today is practical. 
Speed is, one might say, his god. 

Give him careful study and attention, Mr. 
Ad Man, or else you may be stepping down he- 
fore your time. 



From The Ordinary Seaman, a novel by Francis- 
co Goldman, to he published this month by At- 
lantic Monthly Press. Goldman is the author of 
The Long Night of White Chickens. He lives in 
New York City . 


-Iter a night of freezing rain, the Ship 
Visitor will find them. He'll board a ship 
whose name and port of registration will have 
recently been painted over. As a ship visitor, 
he hoards some twenty or thirty ships a week; 
he knows how to size a situation up right off 
He has seen abandoned crews and ships be- 
fore, but this will be the first time he'll he- 
struck by the image of a rusted old freighter 
whose sole cargo is dead autumn leaves. Be- 
yond the enclosed basin where the ship is 
berthed stand trees that will have been 
stripped of leaves by the night's suinn, and 
looking up, he'll see a few still rumbling 

against the overcast sky. He'll see wet brown 
leaves snared in the conning tower and pressed 
flatly to the bridge windows, clinging to the 
stays and shrouds rLinning from the masts as if 
caught and shriveled by high-voltage jolts in 
the galvanized wire. He'll see ice-stiffened 
wads of leaves amidst haphazardly massed 
garbage and litter in every windward nook and 
cranny of the deck, leaves scattered over the 
flooded and icing bottom of an open hold, and 

[Twists of Fate] 


From a press release issued last August by the Los 
Angeles Metropolitan Transportatiim Authority. 



_oday the Los Angeles MTA announced 
the winners of its "Tales from the Fast Lane" 
ciintest, in which the public was asked to sub- 
mit true-life carpooling or vanpooling stories. 
The top prize went to Kimberly Arguelles of 
Covina for her tale of finding her long-lost sis- 
ter while commuting to and from work: 

"I've often wondered what happened to my 
younger sister. When we were very young, our 
parents were killed by a drunk driver, and we 
were adopted by separate families and relocat- 
ed. Years later, a coworker asked me if I would 
like to join a car pool. Meeting the other riders, 
I noticed that one lady looked familiar. As we 
carpooled to work, we both started sharing our 
childhood stories, and I was shocked to discov- 
er she was my long-lost sister!" 

Second place went to John Streltzoff of 
Thousand Oaks for his story of how he was able 
to send two kids to college with the money he 
saved by vanpooling. Two third prizes were 
awarded: to Bernard Hernandez of Huntington 
Beach for his tale about undergoing knee 
surgery and how joining a car pool saved his job 
and career; and to Robert Neu of Los Angeles, 
who suffered an appendicitis attack while car- 
pooling, then fell in love with and married a 
fellow carpooler. 

RoLUiding out the top honors was fourth- 
place winner Amy Walker of Dana Point for 
her tale about meeting the man of her dreams 
while carpooling and how he restored her faith 
in relationships in general. 


blown into the abandoned eahins. Here and 
there, inside shiny, slightly indented spots on 
deck, a flattened leaf inside a shadovv-tiiin 
puddle ot ice. 

The crew members who'll ha\e lowereel the 
ladder and then met him up on deck, atter 
the Ship Visitor has called up from the pier, 
will strike him, on first impression, as 
strangely incurious, or maybe just shy, or to- 
tally K)st in benumbed stupors. Smoky- 
smelling, black-smudged khaki blankets 
tugged over torn and stained clothing, a few 
hard-eyed stares, others vacant, daied. Al- 
most mutely they'll follow the Ship Visitor as 
he strides the ripped-up deck, inspecting as a 
ship visitor must while tutilely bantering 
away in banal Spanish, the situation already 
explicit, appalling. Central Americans. 
\\)ung. Practically boys! Just a bunch of filthy 
fate-stunned boys! They won't smile, won't 
laugh at anything he says. And they'll seem 
to be losing their fc:)oting, almost falling 
down, with every step they take on the ice- 
sheened, dangerously ripped-apart deck, not 
even the calcareous ridges ot frozen gull-drop- 
pings everywhere providing traction. Torn 
colorless sneakers, a few cheap work bot)ts, 
ragged loafers with thin hard soles. Almost 
obstinately, humorlessly, no bemused or even 
embarrassed smiles, they'll be slipping and 
sliding all over the place as if, in some show 
ot belated or purposeless pride, they refuse to 
adjust their manner ot walking for ice, twist- 
ing their feet sideways like skaters into 
chocks. He'll find the rest ot the crew still 
sleeping or lying awake in hunched postures 
under blankets on the floor of the rust- and 
smoke-darkened mess, skin showing through 
rips in blackened socks. 

Later that morning the Ship Visitor will 
drive his van ott the pier and into Brooklyn to 
do st)me quick shopping tor the crew: food, 
heavy-duty plastic sheeting to put over the 
open portholes and doorway to the mess, and 
six packages of tube socks. And then he'll 
spend the rest ot the day on board, listening, 
huddled with them in the frigid mess and 
then around a small wood fire on deck until 
the daylong wintry elusk finally begins to 
darken to night. He'll politely decline their 
titter to stay tor dinner. And then the gold- 
toothed kid will make a ceremonious little 
speech, thanking bun, "our estimable new 
friend," tor the pork chops aiid peas an^l Co- 
ca-Colas and plastic sheeting and socks. And 
all hut a tew of the crew will stand and look at 
the Ship Visitor with solemn expressions, 
briefly but intensely applauding. The Ship 
Visitiir will have been spending his days, five 
i.lays a week, aiuidst men and boys more or less 

like these, if not always as fucked over: men 
and boys, also women and girls, from the poor 
continents, on the move, crewing ships that 
sail all the world's oceans and seas and that 
occasionally stop at this great port. But he'll 
still feel touched and surprised, a little dis- 
turbed, by the earnest solemnity of 
^M~^ 'hat round ot applause. 


he day before yesterday it will have been 
the suicidal Filipina cruise-liner laundress 
threatening to guzzle a bottle of Clorox, hys- 
terically repeating over and over that she has 
a high school degree, that she's a singer, that 
she'd been hired as a shipboard entertainer 
and then they put her in the laundry! Some 
kind of sexual harassment apparently going 
on, too. Of course, the cruise liner will have 
been sailing to the Caribbean that very 
evening, usual story. No time to really be of 
help, to really do anything but coax the bottle 
ot Clorox away anel calm her a little, then go 
back to the office and log it. Phone ahead in 
the next few days to the chaplaincy or sea- 
men's center in the liner's next port of call to 
ask them to look in on her, if they can. Hope 
she didn't just take a nighttime dive off the 
deck — happens, and nti one ever knows or 
cares. Antinymous as mice. 

He'll have spent yesterday in a Port Newark 
hospital, sitting by the bed of a recuperating 
Colombian stowaway — the man and three 
friends had hidden themselves inside a coffee- 
sack-stutfed container loaded onto a ship sail- 
ing from Buenaventura. So when the customs 
inspectors and the DEA guy opened the con- 
tainer down on the pier, this skinny kid in just 
his underwear popped out and took off run- 
ning. The Ship Visitor had been up on deck 
with the crew when, amidst the clanging com- 
motion ot cranes and hoisted containers, he 
sensed a change in pitch ot the stevedores' 
shouts. He went to the rail and saw customs 
officials and stevedores jogging in the direc- 
tion of a nearly naked brown body pinioned as 
it by wind against the hurricane fence, and 
others gathered around the open end ot a con- 
tainer, holding their hands over their noses 
and mouths, some reluctantly clambering in- 
side, lifting out the first of the contorted, 
twisted bodies. Left the other two inside, tor 
the ambulance drivers to deal with. Three 
dead from suffocating heat, hunger, and dehy- 
dration, bunched and sprawled amidst the cof- 
fee-bean-stuffed sacks, stiff with rigor mortis; 
one survivor with enough energy left to take 
off in a wild sprint at the first splash of air and 
daylight . . . 

And end up lying in a hospital with IVs 
pumping saline solutions into him and looking 


This photograph, by Eli Rcichman, was taken at the Bruadway Bridge in Kansas City, Missouri. Rcichman's icoik appeared in ii\e l^)^>b C'oni- 
munication Arts photography annual. He lives in Mission, Kansas. 

like he couldn't even have lost much weight, 
no slackness in his face, just a shocked glittei 
in his eyes. All that just to get to the U.S. of 
A., and he was going to be deported as soon as 
he was discharged. 

How ctnild the Ship Visitor ask what he 
wanted to ask.^ Couldn't, ot course. What was 
it like.' What were you all thinking.' How did 
you know when the first ime died? Was there a 
sight, a sound? And then the other two.' 

He finally asked, How did you not go 

mad? Left it at that. 


'y next week he will have met a pair of 
stowaways from Hong Kong, an old man and 
his eleven-year-old granddaughter. They'll 
have been traveling the world on this ship 
nearly two years already, turned away by the 
authorities at every port, and the Moroccan 
crew and Turkish officers, they'll have practi- 
cally adopted the pair, the old man helping in 
the galley, the little girl becoming fluent in 
Arabic. She'll have a pet pigeon — fattest pi- 

geon he'll have ever seen, nearly as big as a 
turkey — keeping it in a cage one ot the crew 
will have made for her from tar-stiffened rope. 
But the captain will have wanted it resolved, 
getting worried for the girl, her effect ori the 
crew, this no environment tor a little girl on 
the cusp ot puberty: why tempt fate? Will have 
almost telt like a betrayal, but it had to be 
done, getting in touch with people troui 
UNESCO, convincing them to get the paper- 
work done and toot the bill tor their repatria- 
tion without [lort authorities fining the ship tor 
bringing in stowaways, no one else was going to 
do it. Captain Kemal will have even let himself 
be held over in port six extra hours to see it all 
through, inviting the Ship '\/isiror to the going- 
away dinner, breaking out souie not-at-all-bad 
MoreKcan claret. During the dinner the little 
girl will have stood on her chair and made a 
deft speech in Arabic, and then sung a stmg in 
( 'antonese. See what be gets to see? The girl 
will rake the obese pigeon with her, all the way 
b.ack to Hong Kong. ■ 

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Shipping home the fruits of misery 
B}' Ted C. Fishman 


fast spring, when television host- 
ess Kathie Lee Gifford was accused of endorsing a hne of clothing made by 
thirteen-year-old Honduran girls working twenty-hour days, I found myself 
hard-pressed to choose which was the more remarkable, the media's ability 
to transmute celebrity into melodrama or the apparent wish of the Ameri- 
can public to rescue Third World workers from an unnatural doom. 

Here was Kathie Lee tearfully protesting that she was being unfairly ma- 
ligned, and then (under the watch of her hastily engaged public-relations 
consultant) tearfully demanding that something be done for these poor 
and suffering children. The well-televised image of her husband, Frank 
Gifford, handing out hundred-dollar bills to stunned laborers in a sweat- 
shop nicely complemented the announcement that his wife had discussed 
the complexities of the global economy with such worthies as New York 
governor George Pataki and Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. It was an ug- 
ly spectacle, not so much because we glimpsed the dark side of the coin ot 
American celebrity — here was a woman who was paid $5 million and said 
that she didn't know — but because we saw how, given enough money and 
earnest cynicism, that coin can be turned back to its bright and 
proper side. All was more or less forgotten, Kathie Lee's 

B smile continued to sell dishwashing liquid, and the 

viewers of the scandal were presumably relieved, 
ut I, for one, think that it was not Kathie Lee Gifford who mis- 
judged the temper of the times but the American media, which arranged 
for her public flogging. And I'm glad she didn't have to cry for tao long, 
because she was crying for me too — and perhaps for you as well. 

The fact is that American investors, large and small, old and young, are, 
like Kathie Lee, hedging against what they anticipate will be the long-term 
relative decline of America by investing overseas. The pension and mutual- 
fund industries have led the exodus of cash, and together with universities, 
foundations, insurance companies, and private investors, they have 

Ted Fishman's most recent article for Harper's Magazine was "The Bull Market in 
Fear," which appeared in the September J995 issue. 




lMER1c:an investors pourei^ 





changed the shape ot the vvurlJ equity markers. From 1980 to 1994, tj 
incnement ot American money into stocks across borders jumped sixte 
K)Id, to $1.5 trillion. Even though, as of this writing, the U.S. stock mar' 
is up 70 percent in-er the last two years, with twelve new highs last Novi 
her alone, rlie >.iesire tor international stocks remains so strong that neajl ' 
every American investor owns them — it not outright, then through a mu 
al fund or pension account. Overseas investments, in tact, account for 
out ot every eight dollars invested by American mutual funds and pensio 
Most of the rise has come within the last three years, and the trend is ao 
crating. (The state of Connecticut, for example, wagered $400 million 
the first six months of 1996.) Over the next three years, according to t 
consulting firm ot Greenwich Assiiciates, pensions alone will add $150 
ion to their current $380 billion investinent in foreign securities. That' 
rousing commitment considering that until recently, U.S. in\'estors she 
almost no interest elsewhere in the world. 

Not surprisingly, the mutual-tund industry, ever willing to cater 

each investment fad, has spawned two new prtKlucts: global fun 

u hich by inandate can buy stocks anywhere in the world; and 

ternational tunds, which buy only abroad. By a fluke, my dauj 

ter's picture, sitting in a photographer's stock file, ended up 1 

year on the cover ot the prospectus for one such vehicle, the Sti 

Riie Inteniational Fund. Here's the message she unknowing 

peddles: "Two decades ago, 30 percent of the world's ec]uity 

vestment opportunities were securities based outside I 

United States. Today that figure has more than doubled 

as the economies of other countries continue to impro 

and develop, the long-term growth potential of global 

\estments will continue to accelerate." When it was starte 

m 1994, the fund joined a crowded field. In 1984, global a 

nuernational funds numbered 29; by last October, there wi 

658 ot rhcm. Over that same period, the assets of tb 

tunds grew trom $5.2 billion to $264 billion. Investc 

pourei.1 Ml $40 billion in the tirst three cjuarrers of 19S 

much ot it pulk\l out ot traditional saxings vehic 

iionds, money-market acctiunts, and nuitual tunds th 

in\ est in large U.S. companies. 

The strategy rests on the tamiliar principle th 
the safest and most protitable porttolios have tl 
nuxst varied assortment ot investments. The trick 
to tinetune the mix ot toreign assets so that a portfolio's investme 
dim't all swing trom expensive to cheap at the same moment. Fren 
stocks, tor example, ^lon't tollow ihe thirty Dow Jones Industrials, ar 
Malaysian and Japanese stocks act still more independently.' At preset 
institutional investors want toreign stocks to make up as much as 15 pe 
cent ot tluar holdings.-' In man.iging its portfolio, an institution will sh 
mciney around \\hene\er one class ot in\estment outperforms others by 
wide margin. Ihis i^rocess, known sacredly to money managers as "tl 
readjust," has helpcLl to dn\e the boom in international iinestments; b 




llAKTl K 

'l\l MllMU ARY l'W7 

' Discrete iiuvNoik'iUN m lorci^i\ suicks can prove /umoirin.q as well cls cxpcnsivi:. T 
booms and busts oj ihc Japanese markets in the lute C-XSO.s and the Mexican markets 
the early /'■''■Ws sobered anytme ivho played them. Yet. odd as it seems, the most ris 
markets make prized additions to big, portfolios. For complicated mathematical reason 
x'olatile joreigt\ stocks act like a kite tail when attached to a larger portfolio. The mo 
that foreigri stocks and stock markets flop around, the more they serve to stabilize a dive 
sijied portfolio and contribute to il.s gains. 

-' Con.sidtcmt.s who advise large funds put the optmud portum of joreigi\ stocks in i. 
American portfolio at 40 percent. Most juiuls .stil! lag well behind these figures , but ma?!*' 
rich private i)uvsf<ii-,s are already there. One consii/liint who manages only ciccount.s jj^ 
$100 millitm or more told me that his clients were the most enthusiastic joreigrt inivstor 
Because they can buy the best information, super-rich miv.stors regularly lead the u 
ivith imvsfiiu'iit ilioiii's that mainstream ituvstors ivill make iin/\ much later.,ition^ H Warren Lii 

}J;ause the U.S. hull market has run so long, and weightings of U.S. stocks 

:-!iave grown so heavy in institutional portfolios, managers have adjusteel 

Jheir asset mixes and poured money into foreign markets. Individual in- 

d'estors, usually operating less methodically, perform a reverse readjust; 

jjivhen the U.S. stock market dropped last summer, the money flowing into 

ibmestic mutual funds slowed dramatically while money into internation- 

il funds went up. And, even more complicatedly, foreign stt^ks attract 

1 noney even when they are performing poorly, as some of the Asian mar- 

;ets have over the last year. The reasoning here is that American hull 

narkets can't run forever. Money then goes to markets that look de- 

[i:)ressed but are poised for a hull run ot their own. A headline in the "Fore- 

;ast 1997" issue o{ Money magazine played to this one-two punch of greed 

ind fear, urging readers to hail out of U.S. stocks and into overseas win- 

-lers: "Earn 20% Investing Abroad: Here's why foreign shares are poised to 

I'.lobber U.S. stocks in '97." 

(j As American money pours into foreign markets, they pop up, some- 
ijimes literally. Stock exchanges are sprouting in places where they were 
|)nce unthinkable, from the states of the former Eastern bloc and commu- 
■liist Asia to sub'Saharan Africa, including Uganda and soon, improbably 
^;nough, Mozambique. The value of the issues traded on Indonesia's Jakar- 
J a Stock Exchange has grown over 1,000 percent in the last five years to 
:|'590 billion, a third of which is in the hands of foreigners, mostly Ameri- 
j;ans. The internationalization of portfolio investing has fed a swell in the 
|Vorld's pool of exchange-listed securities. By the end of 1995 the total 
/alue of the world's equities was $18 trillion. 

Although Americans investing abroad still favor such developed 
economies as Britain, Germany, Canada, and Japan, the real action is in the 
jtocks of companies in the so-called emerging markets based in thirty-nine 
developing countries in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and all parts of 
A.sia except Japan. ^ Even financial calamities can't put investors off them 
lor long: the chances for phenomenal returns are too great. In 1993 the av- 
erage diversified emerging-market fund went up 38 percent. Even down 
/ears look good. In 1994, emerging markets overall slipped by 10 percent, 
dragged down by Mexico's financial crisis, yet in that same year nineteen of 
he twenty best-performing stock markets worldwide were emerging mar- 
kets. South African stocks, for example, have outpaced the Dow Jones In- 
dustrial Average for the last five years, beating that index by 25 percent. In 
1996, Mexican stocks were up 17 percent through early December; Philip- 

pine stocks, up 30 percent. Poland did well, too — up 77 

I ^ "^^ T percent. And then there was Russia, which despite Boris 
^k ^k / Yeltsin's heart troubles was up 153 percent. 

T T here there's collective greed, there's a market. But the same 
dynamic is true of collective fear. Much of the boom in American invest- 
ment abroad derives from national and personal anxieties; reading the 
•economic tea leaves, many of us believe that emerging economies threat- 
m our jobs, our lifestyles, our prestige. While they take a piece of us, the 
logic goes, it's essential for us to stake a piece ai them. The advertising 
:opywriters working for the mutual funds have become adept at floating 
the euphemisms of dread. A press release from the large fund family Scud- 
der, Stevens & Clark: "[l]t's clear that America's Baby Boom generation 
has developed over the past decade a strong appreciation for the impor- 
tance of ensuring their future financial security," the release says left- 

The term "cmerfring market" was coined in 1'~>HI hy a WorLi Bank nffickd, Antnine 
van Afrtmael, as a marketinfi pkiy to de-stii^atize the Third WorM. Van Agtmael, im- 
blementing an initkitive of then World Bank president Robert McNamara, helped launch 
nock exchanges in developing countries. The case he popuUirized for emerging markets is 
the flip side of the widespread American anxiety over glohahzatirm: "/n the next 25 
years," van Agtmael told a trade magazine recently, "I believe that China will do to 
lapan what the U.S. did to Great Britain in the last century." 

The boom in American 
investment abroad derives 
from our fear that emerging 
economies threaten us 



The world bank estimates 

that china will overtake the 

united states as the world's 


handt'dly alxiut the Jeiiioyraphic group with the intammisly low savini 
rate, "hut to prepare priklenrly ■ . • they inay wish to consider hroadeniil 
their horizons, literally, ^iven market conditions and expected develoj. 
inents hoth domestically and internationally." j 

My outlook is less abstract and more openly selfish: it inx'olves iij 
ei.u'ht-year-old dauj^hter and hve-year-old son. Arourn.1 them our houi\' 
whispers iov better returns — so that they may ha\e a new computer, i 
that they may ^o to collej^e, so that my wife and 1 are not a burden afti 
we retire. In my \iew, my children live in a mature economy hamstrun 
by too many old people, ill-educatei.1 youni^ people, and social problert 
that the go\'ernment can't tind the will to fix. When our economy, or tl] 
economies ot Western Europe, }.;rows ] percent, ectmomists call it a baij 
ner year, yet emergint^ markets are expected to have long-term growi 
rates surpassing 6 percent. Time, 1 believe, is running against my country 

In tact, the ecommiic output ot the developing world will soon outstri 
that ot developed countries and by the turn ot the century will accoui| 
tor over 60 percent ot everything the world produces. The hotly hypt| 
promise ot China is particularly tetching; its rate ot growth has tluctuatti 
between 4 percent and 14 percent over the last decade; the World Bar 
estimates that Chiiia will overtake the United States as the world's large; 
economy by the year 2020, just when my children are in the full swing *. 
their working years. Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, and South Korea wii 
rank higher than Great Britain. To be able to compete internationall 
my children must be expensively prepared. "^ With luck, private schoo 
and top universities can provide my kids with skills that good students ii 
Korea and India learn for free — or what will look free to me after V\ 
sunk hundreds ot tlniusands ot dollars into my family's human capital ovij 
the course ot the next twenty years. To make it that ta 

T^ I'm betting a steady portion of my First World earning 
that Third World laborers are going to work like hell, 
he hope that one's money might scour the globe tor fortunes isn 
iiew, ot course. For better and tor worse, civilization as we krujw it in tb 
Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, and much ot the Far East derives innn & 
mercantile energies of sixteenth-century Europe. The British East Indi 
Company, chartered by Elizabeth I in 1600, eventually grasped an entii' 
subcontinent. But it was not until this century that electrical, and thep 
electronic, technology dramatically increased the flexibility of overse; 
investing. John Maynard Keynes wrote prophetically in 1919 that merei 
by using the telephone a man could "adventure his wealth in the natur.-i 
resources and new enterprises ot any c^uarter ot the world, and share witl- 
out exertion or even trouble, in their prospective fruits and advantages; n 
he could decide to couple the security ot his fortunes with the good tait 
ot the towns people in any substantial municipality in any continent th;' 
fancy or information might recommend." 

Yet the ability to move capital internationally also requires political ci 
operation. The world had a chance at a ttLily global securities market btj 
fore World War 1, when ciilonial powers could still impose their mark( 
systems on their foreign subjects, but that possibility was snuffed out f 
the combined ti)rces of regional and world wars, depression, and th 
spread ot socialism, nationalism, and protectionism. The movement ot in 
vestment capital frimi the United States and other developed countries t 
the rest ot the world took the form ot grants and loans, either from go\ 
ernments, big multilateral lenders such as the World Bank, or privat 
banks. But after the failure of this paradigm, when the state-directt 
economies of Latin America suffered a debt crisis and banks curtaile 

is HARrHK'SMA(;AZlNt/FERRi;.-\RY iw? 

"^ A recent report liK.ijins juKirly far the I h-iited States. In math, Sing,alX)rc studen 
rmiked first, seorin" 643 an a stdndardt:ed test. L'.N students scared 500, which ranL 
twenty-eif^hth ghihally . 

iheir lending in the developing world, and after the collapse ot Comimi- 
siism, liberal market economics was embraced as the only hope that poor- 
•r countries had to lure capital across their borders. Invest in developing 
:ountries, the thinking went, and the tide of money wrtuight by cheap, 
orutalized labor eventually would lilt all boats and bring democracy. This 
theory, dubbed "the development model," argues that open capital mar- 
kets have liberalizing effects on repressive regimes because investors de- 
T:iand reliable information on topics that ruling cliques like to keep quiet 
bout. Investors also demand that the rule of law be respected, giving 
ihem assurance that disputes will be resolved fairly. As a result, the theory 
«;oes, political systems open up, because information flows more freely and 
leople have more recourse to the law. 

The rush to market we see today sprang from the adoption of 
he development model by the "Washington consensus," a term 
•conomist Paul Krugman defines as "not only the U.S. govern- 
nent, but all those institutions and rietworks of opinion leaders 
centered in the world's de facto capital — the international Mone- 
rary Fund, World Bank, think tanks, politically sophisticated in- 
'estment bankers, and worldly finance ministers, all those who 
neet each other in Washington and collectively define the con- 
ventional wisdom of the moment." Since 1990, central fiscal 
)Owers have administered free market medicine to one economy 
ifter another, always with the same prescription: open up trade, 
ell off state-owned companies, and discipline government spend- 
ing. "Find a country that has done these things," writes Krugman, 
eporting the sentiment, "and there one may confidently expect 
realize high returns on investments. . . . The question was not 
vhether optimistic expectations about growth in the big emerg- 
ing markets would be fulfilled; it was whether advanced countries 
vould be able to cope with the new competition and take advan- 
age of the opportunities this growth now offered." 

That question has been answered. Hints that a country is re- 
orming its tax code, privatizing its phone company, balancing its 
ludget, or consuming more beer send money rushing in. So-called 
nacro-investors bet on entire countries the same way other in- 
vestors do on hot domestic stocks. A trader for one large firm told 
ne that he looked at "200 data points a day" to figure out which 
vay the world was going and how much money should follow. In- 
lividual investors now play the same game. Want to take a flier on 
ihe economies of China or India or Africa? Securities traded on U.S. stock 
.'xchanges make it ptissible. Dozens of country funds, such as the China 
•^und, the India Fund, and the Simba Fund, invest in a broad spectrum of 
;tocks meant to represent the collective fortunes of the markets they cover, 
"■or those keen on a larger approach, index funds let one hold every major 
itock in a geopolitical market. A phone call to the Vanguard Inter- 
national Equity Index Fund-Pacific Portfolio, for in- 
R stance, will deliver a piece of nearly five hundred Pacific 
Rim companies. 

emembering the Liproar over Kathie Lee Gilford s Honduran 

^irls, what do 1 know about my foreign portfolio, which is comprised of 
5arts of twelve funds.' Am 1 aware of all of my companies' labor or envi- 
'onmental practices.' Am 1 aware of the scicial conditions in each country? 
s the development model working in these places? Do I worry about what 
3rogress is being made? In a wiird, no. It's too much work to figure out 
"low the funds I'm invested in have used my money; a quick look at the 
unds' annual reports shows that 1 own a piece of over 1,000 foreign com- 
panies in dozens of ctiuntries. 1 do know that 1 own shares in one of the 
ifteen or so funds that have a big stake in Daewoo and in two of the hun- 
lred-od(.l fLuids partial to SauisLing. Roth companies, auiong the world's 

Hints that a country is 
privatizing its phone company 
or balancing its budget send 
money rushing in 







largest, make or sell cvcrythint;; tn)m stMniconJucri>r.s to lumhcr to insii 
.ince. Other hiy Korean con<;lomerates, called ch(whi)ls. are well represeii 
eii, too. That'.s j^ood. L'hacbiils control a luine portion ot Korea's econoii^ 
with hanks, tioverniiient, and corporations comhined so intricately tht 
outsiders have little chance ot learninu how the influence and assets i' 
tertwine. For funds, the hest Let is just to i^uy all the conglomerates ail 
Ixinks around, and that way ^,'et a piece of almost e\-erythini,' Korea is i 
to. As an investor, then, 1 am partners with the thirty families that co- kI 
trol the Korean economy. These families are close to the country's formk .'■'i 
dictators, and our collective profits historically derive from a steady flew »'i>i 
of government money (lured hy hundred-million-dollar hrihes), econorrlj .'* 
discriminatitm against ctnnpetitors, and a police state that has hrutalizti l^^' 
Korean workers and enforced miserahle working conditions. ' .nr 

Do 1 care that I am investing in tyranny, authoritarianism, and latt«:iiiJ 
day feudalism.' Ahsolutely. I'm glad. What could he hetter for my get-ricBW 
in- Asia strategy' To he perfectly honest, the fact that Korea ft tk 
progressing socially at all unsettles me. Koreans tolerate corrujiia 
tion less and less these days, and workers organize more fre JiK 
and earn higher wages. These changes fulfill the promises Bk). 
the development model that Wall Street, Washington, and tmk 
international hanks tout puhlicly, but also mean that doiiWKf 
business at home is tougher for Korean conglomerates, especisf iiof 
ly for those that built their market share on cheap exports. .d 

Yet, as it turns i)Lit, conglomerates ha\'en't lost their ahili .a 
to exploit cheap workers; they've just exported that too. Off ji 
cials at the U.S. Trade Representative's office, human righl 
groups, and labor unions shudder when asked about Korea's fol 
eign plants, now spread everywhere in the developing worl(j 
The practices at plants in Central and South America are tf 
best documented, though hired security forces, cooperative pcbiier 
lice, and razor wire do a good job of keeping outsiders beyonjAlie 
the gates. The Korean government has tallied over two hur»te 
dred Korean factories in the region, though it admits that mai*f=it 
more exist. Most are assembly plants for Korea's garment indu.4it\n 
try; some assemble ctmsumer electronics. Korean factories aSStm] 
count tor halt ot the clothing industry in both Guatemala an|iaih 
Honduras. In the Americas, Koreans cari take advantage &-! 
tree-trade privileges, dirt-cheap wages (as K)w as 1 1 cents a^f-f 
hour), and a near-total absence of unions. |;;-n 

The Kathie Lee Gittiird episode shed some light on ho\| in 
these companies are returning value to people sLich as myseh •jn 
their shareholders:"' the hires are mostly girls in their midt y\ 
teens, delivered to work on school buses. They presumably make idea4; 
stitchers because they are at the peak of their manual dexterity. And the I 
are easily managed, right down to their reproductixe systems. Some plantji'ri 
pass out birth control pills daily but tell workers that they are vitamins! ( 
Gi\'en this atmosphere ot coerciim and threat, it's little wonder that la j 
b^ir-rights reports claim incidents ot rape as well. 

Thus does my money chase human misery. Although 1 don't know fo' 
certain which companies I own con^lucr business in this manner, Samd 
sung and Daewoo do have garment plants in Latin America, arid 1 take ii 
on faith that either the\ or some other Korean company 1 hold is reapin; 

Investors mtcrcstcd m which cmmtrics miij^hi he the mast liicnuirc should hinv a hiok a 
"Child Labour: Tarnciing the Intolerable." a rej^nt just jmbhshed by the Internationa 
Labour Conference. In it one can g^leen not only that 250 million children between thi 
ages of five and fourteen in deveh)jnnf;. countries work full- or part-time but that 6 J per 
cent of them tnv in Asia, and that much of their labor includes exposure to pesticides 
herbicides, fertilizers, heavy loads, extreme temperatures, explosives, radioactive sub 
stances, industrial machinery, ear-splittmg noise, poor lightinf^, /vtUL'Tie, asbestos, car 
bon nvmoxide. jJyins, f^lass , slavery, etc. 


qhe advantages of doing business there. I ha\e tied my children's futures 
lot only to rising Asia but to the backs of young girls working for a few 
Jimes an hour. It's all good news for my portfolio, since my Korean hold- 

■JUgs vested in Latin America bring me the residual diversification^ needed 
put me in the middle of the two most dynamic trends in the global 
economy: the drive toward the top in Asian industrialization, and the 
Irive toward the bottom in low-tech manufacturing. 

The bottom, however, may turn out to be what 1 need most. Low wages 
ind tough working conditions are nothing new in the garment industrs", but 

liiow they are just as possible in more demanding high-tech fields. Girls with 
bur years of school can now assemble sophisticated consumer electronics 
ind computers as easily as they can Pocahontas pajamas. Automated manu- 
acturing has shrunk the lag between the moment a product is state-of-the- 

iirt and when it is a low-tech commodirv". Cheap workers are a necessary- 
:ompetitive advantage sooner in the life cycle of manufactured goods than 
;ver before. In the life cycle of ser\"ices, too. American multinationals farm 

[I out data processing to Third World workers who can't read English, and the 
Drograrrmiing of complex computer code, once handled by the graduates or 
\merican computer-science departments, is extracted on the cheap in Ban- 

: jalore and Moscow. The companies that can push workers hardest win the 

( jrive to the bottom, and with the right stocks I will participate, 1 will win. ' 

How fascinating, incidentally, that some of the burgeoning foreign 
itock funds actually end up investing in the United States. Formosa Plas- 
:ics, a large Taiwanese chemical company, has long taken full ad\"antage 
of Taiwan's hospitalirs" toward polluters. The countn's ruined landscape 
and toxic waters owe much to the plastics industn", in which Formosa 
Plastics ranks as the world's largest manufacturer of polyvinyl chloride. 
According to the latest study by the Council on Economic Priorities, For- 
mosa Plastics U.S.A. is the largest producer of hazardous waste among 
America's midsized chemical companies and has, thankfully for its stock- 
holders, declined to participate in the chemical industry's voluntary 
waste-reduction program. Formosa is an attractive investment, and I'm 
glad that five funds can put the company in my portfolio. 

Another investment that interests me is the DFA Pacific Rim Small 
Company Fund, which owns roughly a thousand stocks screened by a 
mathematical formula. It has a nice historical return. One of the compa- 
nies that fits the fund's criteria is Poly Technologies, a mainland Chinese 
company owned largely by the Chinese military-. Last Jure, the U.S. De- 
partment of Justice charged Poly Technologies with attempting to smug- 
gle two thousand AK-47s into the United States; the company is one of 
China's largest arms dealers and at the time was run by Deng Xiaoping's 
son-in-law. The military- is pushing hard into mainstream business in Chi- 
na, and I'm glad, because stabilirs', as ever^^one knows, is good for busi- 
ness, and who better to enforce it than an army that runs 
the economy? Next time Chinese soldiers bulldoze pro- 
democracy protesters, my family will benefit. 


The companies that push 


here's more good news for me. Although the development model 
foretells that democracy will blossom in countries that open up their capital 

" Speaking of diversification, I'm very excited thai Asian companies (including W'TK 
and Mingo of Malaysia and Fortune Timber of Taiuan) have bought up 8.6 million 
acres in the Brazilian Amazon. Future agreements are expected to raise that figuTe to 
22.2 million, which will constitute 15 percent of the harvestahle rain jorest. 

' To Yang Ming Marine, the drive to the bottom means som.ething else entirely, ^ang 
Ming owns the ship that pulled into Halifax minus three stowaways last May. The cap- 
tain had them thrown overboard in the middle of the ocean to spare his company the 
$5 ,CQO-per-head fine the Cartadian government imposes on ships v.ith unregistered pas- 
sengers. If the managers of my funds ever start looking at anything other than retunis. ! 
might not find myself with companies like Yang Ming in my portfolio. But for noiv. I can 
still own one of the six international funds that have a nice piece of Yang Ming. 


Here's a tip: you c:ant get 

MUCH better than FORCTT^ 





markets, public stock offering's have proven very useful to entrench I 
reuiiiies. In IiuKinesia, a small circle of interests around the family of Pre 
tlent Suharto controls a vast proportion o\ the country's wealth. Jeffr 
Winters of Northwestern University has estimated the Suharto fami 
wealth at owr Sk"' hillion, with another $^0 billion held by fifty cK)se allii 
Pick any major busuiess — telecommunicatii)ns, construction, bankir 
food, heavy manufacturiiig. McDonald's — and Suharto's circle has contn 
The buryeonin^ of the Jakarta Stock Exchange, says Winters, is a part 
the ruling group's deliberate strategy to sell off a significant portion of 
hoLlings to in\estors in the developed world, thus making them partners 
the present ortler as well as defenders of my interests, should unrest threat( 
the status quo. For investtirs like me, partnership with the Indonesian go 
ernment carries real advantages: a uniiin-busting military (which oft( 
Ljuashes strikes in the Suharto family's factories); pieces of highly profitabi 
go\'eniment-protected monopolies; and the assurance that my partners w 
go to almost any length to promote a stable business environment (e 
close down newspapers, suppress political parties, and call out the troops) 

Although the Washington consensus still pays lip service to the liberE 
ing power of ftireign capital, many of the einerging-market countries see 
to be making sure that profits are the only thing growing more liber; 
The ruling elites in each country are adept at making sure that democra( 
and employee-stock-ownership plans aren't going to arrive anytime soo 
In Asia and Latin America, special economic zones for foreign investc 
are set up so that governments can forgo reforming their corrupt, lucrati\ 
bureaucracies. They establish separate court systems to hear the cor 
plaints of businesses and reserve the old justice systems to handle busine 
as usual. New information channels, such as cmline news services and ii 
ternational magazines, are made available on a limited basis to goveri 
ment tifficials and approved businesspeople, but popular media remai 
under strict control. At the same time that Indonesia was ramping up oi 
to the Internet, the government closed down two leading newsmagazine 
the country's equivalent of Time and Newiweek. In Singapore, the prit 
editions of most Western news organizatiotis are banned or strictly cer 
.sored, yet privileged business and government officials may receive then 
In the Caribbean Basin, workers are beaten nearly to death for the me 
possession of labor pamphlets. In fact, everywhere my money goes, capit 
markets have widened the gap between rich and poor. As markets go u] 
the wealth of those with assets multiplies, while low-wage earners stc 
stuck where they are. If they make progress, and threaten tt) price their Ic 
cal economies out of the cheap-labor market, their governments devak 
the local currency. 

If liberaliiatiori does, by some chance, take hold in a country, 1 can a 
ways diversify elsewhere and get ever-cheaper labor. Here's a tip: You can 
get much better than forced labor, and that's what investments in soit 
ciniipanies doing business in Burma deliver. The country still doesn't hav 
its i)wn stock market, but it has alluring business ventures, such as the g; 
pipeline running across the country from the Andaman Sea iiito Thailan 
The venture unites state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas with Unocal, th 
U.S. oil company; Total, the big French petroleum giant; and Thailand 
PTT Exploration & Prodtiction — three companies that appear frequentl 
in global and international mutual funds, including those in the tw 
largest fund families. Fidelity and Vanguard. PTT Exploration, which 
partially state-owned, shows up in one of the Scudder funds recommende 
for U.S. baby boomers. To sa\'e money on the billion-dollar eiiterprise, th 
Myanmar military, according xo the U.S. State Department and humar 
rights grouj^s, has employed tens of thousands of conscripted workers, in 
eluding old men and pregnant women, and forced them at gunpoint t 
clear land and build railway parallel to the pipeline. The companies den 
using forced labor, but I hope they are lyirig, because I like to think tha 
tho,se conscripted workers are cutting the path of my American future 

-(J llAKI'FrR'>.\lAr,A/I\h/FtBKrARY UW? 


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In Africa, nations hire a corporation to wage war 
B}? Elizabeth Ruhin 


fcben Barltnv lives and works >in 
a qiiict, tree-lined side street \n a 
wealthy suburb nt Pretoria, the city 
that was tince the headquarters ot 
South Africa's apartheid military es- 
tablishment. Set back behind well- 
tended grounds and a swimming pool, 
.yuardei.1 by\'eillance cameras and 
two stone lions at the portico, Bar- 
low's stately mock-tudor \'illa could 
easily belonji to a corptirate executive 
in Greenwich, Connecticut. The liv- 
ini^ room decor woLild make Martha 
Stewart proud: heavy-nubbed silk 
drapes and matchin,u rose-colored 
leather and brocade love seats, couch- 
es, and wint,' chairs. As Barlow pours 
coftee into tine china, it is easy to tor- 
,Uet that he was once a commaneler ot 
the notorious M Battalion ot the 
South Atrican special torces, but there 
are se\'eral clues scattereel about: a 
small libr;ir\' ot spy nowU, ,i collec- 
tion ot battle histories, ;ind the over- 
si:e(.l World Hncyclnlwlia oj i h;^Ln]i:cJ 
Cn»ic', by jay Robert Nash, which sits 
propped up between two yoklen sw;ins 
on the hicquercLl cottee tiible. 

E\'erythin,i; is ele.i^ant, orderly, ;inLl 
ci\il, including the corporate bro- 
chure Ixirlow hantis to his miests up- 
on ;irn\';il. It's a L;lossy black porttolio 
w irh multicolor '^r.iphics that i^lescribe 

l'li:dhcih ihihm is a conirihuuni^ cditnr nj 
iiu- F'orw.irJ, llcr las( article /er Harper's 
i\l.i'_'.i:uiL', "Sih'v/i-ijil; Scirajcro." cij'jK'iircd 
111 llw r,:hrudry I'-'^'d issue. 

the confidential "advisory," "train- 
mi;," and "equipment" services his 
oMiiiiany, E\ecuti\'e Outcomes, pro- 
vides: Clandestine Warfare, Combat 
Air Patrol, Armored Warfare, Basic 
and Advanced Battle Handling', and 
Sniper Trainin^j;. The corporation, 
the brochure says, prides itself on its 
flawless and unecjualed success record, 
on its aboxe-averaf^e growth rate, and 
on the five thousand man-years of 
combat experience ot its workforce — 
all former elite commandos of the 
apartheid regime. Barlow's company 
eleclares that it is one of the largest 
businesses of its kind in the vviirld, but 
that is an easy bt)ast. It is, so far, the 
onl\' incorporated private mercenary 
army on earth that will contract to 
mo\'e in <ini.l wage full-scale war on 
beh;ilt of its client. 

1 \isifed Barlow at his villa last 
June. He is a fnm, spry, forty-year- 
okl, unassuming in his navy blazer 
and soft blue Oxford shirt, the per- 
tecr P.R. man for Executu'e Out- 
comes — reasonable, cool, smooth- 
talking, and solicitous. In Afrikaans, 
the word for chameknin is vcrkleur- 
nuniiictjie, "changing-color man," 
aiiil it describes Barlow well. A fair- 
h:med man with one green ani.1 one 
blue eye whose elrawn, weathered 
face rex'eals not a flicker ot emotion, 
Barlow has perfected the art ot 
;kl.i|iti\'e coloration o\'er the years. 
After fighting m South Africa's bor- 
der wars in the l^'70s, Barlow- 

moved into intelligence and becai 
an agent in the Civil Cooperati 
Bureau (CCB), the innocuous 
named covert assassination and es 
onage unit formed by South Afric; 
military intelligence to target ai 
eliminate enemies of the white n 
nority-ruled state. The CCB se 
Barlow to Western Europe, where 1: 
tasks purportedly included spreadi 
disinformation about Nelson Ma 
dela's African National Congress a 
setting up front cornpanies to eva 
sanctions and sell Siiuth Afric 
weapons abroad. By the time tl>- 
CCB death squads were expo.sed 
1990 under President F. W. de Kle 
Barlow had already established Exqf 
utive Outcomes as a counterinte 
gence constiltancy, number! 
among his clients not only his for: 
employer, the South African D[ 
fence Forces, but also the De Bee 
diamond cartel. He had positiont. 
himselt to turn the political chang: 
in South Africa into an econom 
boon. But It w;isn't enough. "We ; 
have our dreams," Barlow sai 
perched at the edge of his rose sette 
"Mine was to be the best and biggt 
military consultancy in the world." 
Barlow chose for his company lo< 
the paladin, the same chessboa 
knight once featured in the old T 
.series Have Gun, Will Travel, becau,s 
he said, "1 liked the way it moves i 
the world board." But he bristles ', 
the won.1 "mercenary." He prefers 1 

44 llAKI'l;R'^MAi;.'\i'INl:/H-i:|;i .ARY I'W? 

iew Executive Outcomes as a team of 
i.orporate trouhleshooters, marketing 
! strategy of recovery to failing gov- 
ernments around the world (though 
liearly all its jobs, so far, have been in 
Africa). In exchange for millions of 
loUars, the company offers to do what 
he United Nations blue helmets can- 
iiot and will not do: take sides, deploy 
j)verwhelming force, and fire "pre- 
|;mptively" on its contractually desig- 
' lated enemy. 

I Barlow imagines E.O. as a kind of 
advance team for the U.N. "You 
ii'.annot keep peace if there is no 
)eace, as we saw in Bosnia," he said. 
But we can help a 
;ountry to achieve 
ome form of stability 
jefore the U.N. comes 
n." Executive Out- 
tomes' first priority, 
lowever, is business. 
!fhe war machine is 
)nly one part of a 
;rowing empire of 
".ompanies specializing 
n the lucrative miner- 
il harvests of high-risk 
mvironments — gold, 
)il, and gems. African 
governments often 
lave cash-flow prob- 
ems. Barlow ex- 
jlained. By working in 
■esource-rich coun- 
tries, he and his board 
■nembers can rest as- 
sured that the company will always 
^et paid. "Africa is Africa, under- 
stand," he said, "and we 
don't work for free." 

May 1995, Executive Outcomes 
landed on the scene, promising to 
restore law and order in exchange for 
$15 million and a share of the coun- 
try's coveted diamond mines. 

For the first few weeks of my visit 
I stayed in Freetown, where Execu- 
tive Outcomes was firmly ensconced 
in the headquarters of the 
national military, a bizarre, 
Chinese-built structure, 
shaped like a Buddhist tem- 
ple, with an expansive view 
of the city's palm-studded, 
powdery Atlantic beaches. 
During E.O.'s campaign. 


efore meeting with Barlow, 1 
lad spent several weeks in Sierra 
-eone, a recent client and proud 
'success story" of Executive Out- 
:omes. In 1991, a brutal civil war 
ingulfed Sierra Leone, a small coun- 
try on the west coast of Africa, and 
Js rebels and soldiers battled one an- 
3ther, they also waged a campaign of 
terror against civilians. No one — not 
the United Nations, not the Organi- 
tation of African Unity, not the in- 
ternational-conflict-resolution ex- 
perts who filled up the abandoned 
tourist hotels in Freetown, Sierra 
-eone's capital — was able to bring 
the fighting under control. Then in 

however, much of the company's 
military might had been focused iri 
Kono, the rich diamond-mining 
province some two hundred miles to 
the east, and I wanted to see what 
E.O. had accomplished out there. 
Ambushes were still common on the 
roads leading to the country's interi- 
or, so 1 flew out on a Lebanese- 
owned, Russian-piloted charter. The 
plane passed for nearly an hour over 
densely forested hills, and then, as 
the valleys spread out below, 1 could 
see sunlight bouncing oif hundreds 
of shallow mud pools, clustered 
along the riverbeds and ringed by 
sand dunes. It seemed as if a terrible 
scourge had scarred the land with 
thermal ulcers. As the plane dropped 
lower over collapsed and burned-out 
shanties, the tiny specks moving in 
and around the ulcers re.solved into 

the shapes of men, and the craters 
emerged as mining pits, some long 
abandoned, some still active, dug 
with shovels by thousands of Sierra 
Leonians chasing after diamonds. 

It had been ten months since the 
South Africans captured the region, 
and some five hundred thousand 
people had flocked 
in behind them, 
hoping to get rich 
off the diamond- 
filled soil. All along 
the potted red-dirt 
road that wound in 
from the airstrip to 
Koidu, the com- 
mercial center of 
Kono, hundreds of 
w bare-chested men 

"-"" and boys were dig- 
ging under the 
scorching equatorial sun. They 
shoveled outside a bombed-out 
police station, through the floors 
of mud huts, among the ruins of 
torched and looted stone houses, 
in the shadows of the towering 
mosques, in pits and dunes to the 
horizons. Boys, hunched over 
handmade sieves, spun and sifted 
the heavy earth, wading in the 
murky water at the bottom of the 
pits. At the compound of the 
bankrupt National Diamond Min- 
ing Corporation, men were exca- 
vating in the old swimming pool, 
the tennis courts, and the golf 
course. But it wasn't all pick, shovel, 
and pan. A cacophony of groaning, 
slurping, hissing, and rumbling rose 
from Caterpillar bulldozers, dredges, 
and pumps along the riverbeds, 
where foreign investors were running 
industrial-diamond operations, gam- 
bling on the security provided by Ex- 
ecutive Outcomes. 

Koidu looked and smelled like a 
battered frontier town of the Ameri- 
can West. Red dust clung to every- 
thing, seeping into your eyes and 
nose. But commerce was in full swing 
again. Tailors, barbers, and music 
vendors blaring Bob Marley had set 
up shops in corrugated metal and 
wood shanties cobbled together be- 
tween the prairie-stvle buildings. 
Outside the recently whitewashed 
homes oi the Lebanese, who had set- 
tled in Sierra Leone at the turn of 

^ap hy Susan Johnston Carlson 


the century and lon^ a^ci cornered 
the stone trade in Koidu, large siy;ns 
announcing the names ot (.liamond 
buyers hung over paintings ot car- 
toonishly sparkUng diamonds — the 
bush version ot Manhattan's Forty- 
seventh Street. Coaxers, whose job is 
to lure passing miners to the buyers, 
loitered on the verandas. 

Nearly everyone 1 met 
seemed eager to tell me that 
the renewed energy and in- 
dustry I saw all aroiuid was 
thanks entirely to the South 
Africans. A delegation ot 
Kono's paramoimt chiefs had 
just returned from Freetown, 
where they had been urging the 
newly elected civilian president, 
Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, to renew Ex- 
ecutive Outcomes' estimated $1.8- 
million-a-month contract. Chief 
Konneh Bondo, who led the delega- 
tion, recounted his pitch tor me as 
we sat in the shade oi his cool stone 
porch. "We know it's expensive, hut 
you cannot compare that to lite," he 
said. "I told the president that we are 
all ready to move out if the South 
Africans, who are also sacrificing 
their lives here, pull out." And he 
meant everyone — right down to the 
street vendors selling cigarettes and 
plastic baggies of gin out of suitcases, 
the women selling mangos and 
ground nuts piled high on their 
heads, and the man at the market 
who sat all day on a tree-trunk stool, 
making and selling mining tools. 
Many felt so indebted to the soldiers 
of Executive Outcomes, whom they 
rather fantastically imagined had 
come in a gesture ot pan-African 
generosity, that they prayed tor them 
at mc^sque. The South African mer- 
cenaries, camped on a nearby hilltop 
overlooking Koidu, were unreser\'ed- 
ly hailed by the chiefs, the business- 
men, and the street 
^w y people as saviors. 

T T lien 1 was in Freetown, there 
were always a tew ti"eighter> anchored 
oftshore. One belonged to L\- Beers, 
the diamond cartel founded by Cecil 
Rhodes during the British colonial 
era. The other belongei_l to Executive 
C^utcomes. The ships were emblemat- 
ic ot Sierra Leone's plight, past and 
present. Although the political frame- 

work of colonialism was unrigged at 
independence in 1961, it left in its 
place a fragile nation-state still wholly 
dependent on toreign ballast. 

Sierra Leone, once a key p^irt in 
the West African slave trade, be- 
came known in the nineteenth cen- 
tury, when it was under British rule. 

Many in kono felt so indebtel^ to the 

soldiers of executive outcomes that 

they prayed for them at mosque 

as bcuh a colony tor treed slaves 
(Britain's equivalent ot Liberia) and 
the "Athens of West Africa" (for its 
highly acclaimed university). Since 
the British withdrawal in 1961, how- 
ever, Sierra Leone's history has read 
like a study in local political corrup- 
tion and ill-conceived foreign eco- 
nomic reforms. Siaka Stevens, a 
charismatic trade unionist, took over 
where the colonialists left off, and 
from 1968 to 1985 he ruled over a 
one-party state, creating a kleptocra- 
cy whose main objective was to loot 
the land. In partnership with Euro- 
pean and Lebanese financiers, 
Stevens and his coterie engorged 
themselves on the country's vast 
natural resources, while the rest of 
the nation slid to the bottom ot the 
U.N. charts rating human misery 
around the world. 

By 1985, when Stevens stepped 
down and named as his successor 
Major-General Joseph Momoh, the 
head ot his impotent army, the na- 
tion's civil service, health, educa- 
tion, transportation, and communi- 
cations systems had completely 
collapsed. Monmh — whom Sierra 
Leonians nicknamed Dandogo, 
meaning "the Idiot" — did little to 
improve matters. Under his leader- 
ship the nation's intlation rate rose 
to the highest in Atrica; the treasury 
went bankrupt; gasoline, electricity, 
and even printed money disap- 
peared; literacy was down to 21 per- 
cent; and average lite expectancy tell 
to about age forty. 

In 1991, Foday Sankoh, a disgrun- 
tled tormer Sierra Leonian army ofti- 
cer and a protege ot Liberian warlord 

Charles Taylor, led an assault fro 

Liberia intt) Sierra Leone's diamom 

rich eastern region with his Revel 

tionary United Front (RUE), made i 

oi Knh Liberian and Sierra Leonic 

fighters. Sankoh was ostensibly air 

ing to stir up a grass-roots revolutic 

to topple the old regime, and his sii 

gularly cniel, charismatic r 

bellit)n made rapid advanc 

against the ragtag nation 

army. Unwilling tarme 

were press-ganged into h 

army or intimidated by h 

trademark tactics: cutting 

hands, arms, ears, and ger 

tabs; gouging out eyeball 

and eating the organs trf victims. 

Then in April 1992, Valentir 
Strasser, a twenty-eight-year-o 
army captain, stormed the Sta 
House in Freetown with several otl 
er young soldiers who had bee 
fighting without pay, supplies, me* 
ical support, or political motivatio 
They had come to demand the 
salaries and stage a protest, hut Pres 
dent Momoh, fearing a coup, pat 
icked and fled to neighborir 
Guinea, leaving the State Hou; 
empty. So Strasser did declare 
coup; he went on the radio and pn 
claimed an end to misrule and co 
ruption. Ecstatic Sierra Leoniar 
danced in the streets. Even aft( 
Strasser's junta hacked twenty-tw) 
alleged plotters of a countercoup t 
death on a Freetown beach, crowi 
still cheered tor the new regime. 

But Strasser and his National Pre 
visional Ruling Council (NPRC 
soon forgot about their youthful rei 
olution. Suddenly, they had unin 
peded access to the diamond field 
to BMWs and Mercedes, and to SiJ 
ka Stevens's old presidential palac 
which the NPRC boys turned into 
private disco where they dancei 
smoked pot, and snorted cocair 
through the night. They also seeme 
to have forgotten that they were 
war. As Foday Sankoh's rebe 
pressed on, Strasser bumped up hf 
army trom a force ot three thousanljl 
to about ten thousand by round irj« 
up street kids and criminals. 

Now armed, Sierra Leone's diserl 
franchised exploited the war to real 
riches they'd always been denieJ 
Gangs of soldiers, rebels, and evefc 

4(1 i lARri:R'S M.^( lAZlNH / FEBRLl.'XR V I W7 

€ two sides in collaboration went 
1 looting sprees, ambushing con- 
f)ys, plundering diamond mines, 
i^aling supplies, and setting up ran- 
i)m roadblocks. When the civilians 
i;ured out that their attackers were 
)t only rebels hut also government 
Idiers gone foul, they took to call- 
g anyone in uniform a "sobel" — 
idiers who took the guise of rebels 
I pillage, rape, maim, and murder. 
,iere were no coherent front lines, 
) political causes, and tor the ter- 
irized public no place was 
fe. What began as a civil 
ir had become civil chaos. 
;By 1995, four years after 
mkoh's campaign began, 
bels and reiiegade soldiers 
id overrun Sierra Leone's 
lamond, bauxite, and tita- 
lum dioxide mines — the 
tree main sources of foreign 

■ venue; locals and expatri- 
■es had been taken hostage; 
reign investors had pulled 
jt; tens of thousands of 
iiople had been maimed or '0^- 
lied; and one quarter of the ~ 
•ewar population of 4-5 
illion were living in over- 
owded refugee camps. 

■ Strasser had heard about 
<ecutive Outcomes from 
tides in Newsweek and 
Mier of Fortune recounting 
le company's successful ex- 
loits in Angola a year earli- 

. But it was the British directors of 
eritage Oil & Gas, an oil firm that 
id brought E.O. into Angola, and 
ranch Energy, a mining firm with 
tterests in Sierra Leone and con- 
lets within the presidential palace, 
ho encouraged Strasser to hire Bar- 
iw's army. (The directors of the 
•eritage-Branch group and E.O. 
ive managed to cloud the exact na- 
ire of their relationship behind a 
eb of interlocking companies 
hose ownership is difficult to trace, 
/en Heritage-Branch officials have 

hard time keeping the story 
raight: they claim that there's no 
)rporate link but constantly refer to 
O. in conversation as "we.") 

By the end of April 1995, as the 
bels closed in on Freetown, Strass- 

■ made the call to E.O. A deal was 
ruck, and a contract was qLiickly 

drawn up and signed by Strasser and 
the fouiider of Heritage and Branch, 
an English entrepreneur named An- 
thony Buckingham. Executive Out- 
comes pledged in the contract to de- 
liver the following services: to 
combat and destroy the "terrorist en- 
emies of the state"; to restore inter- 
nal security; and to help build and 
maintain an economic climate 
where new investment could be at- 
tracted and allowed to flourish. 
Strasser couldn't pay E.O.'s $15 mil- 

The force came equipped with two 
Mil 7s and an M124 Hind — Russian 
helicopter gunships similar to Ameri- 
can Apaches — a radio intercept sys- 
tem, two Boeing 727s to transport 
troops and supplies, an Andover ca- 
sualty-evacuation aircraft, and fuel- 
air explosives, bombs that suck out 
oxygen upon detonation, killing all 
life within a square-mile radius. The 
men were outfitted in Sierra Leonian 
uniforms and supplied by the Sierra 
Leonian military with three armored 


lion fee, so Buckingham agreed to 
bankroll the operatioii in exchange 
for future mining revenues. By May 

E.O. had deployed its first 

170 men. 


he Executive Outcomes fight- 
ers were mostly black Angolans and 
Namibians from Barlow's old 32 Bat- 
talion, with an officer corps of white 
South Africans and a white Rhode- 
sian brigadier: a collection of former 
spies, assassins, and crack guer- 
rillas, most of whom had served for 
fifteen to twenty years in South 
Africa's most notorious counterin- 
surgency units. The soldiers were 
paid between $2,000 and $7,000 a 
month. Many were airlifted straight 
out of Angola, where E.O. was still 
active. No passports were stamped, 
no customs procedures needed. 

personnel carriers fitted with 30-mm 
cannons and six Land Rovers mount- 
ed with antiaircraft guns, as well as 
ammunition, artillery, and Kalash- 
nikovs. Once in country, they set 
about training an elite corps of Sierra 
Leonian soldiers, and they employed 
traditional Sierra Leonian hunters, 
known as Kammah Joes — a witch- 
craft battalion armed with old single- 
barrel muskets, special herbal po- 
tions, and supernatural war garments 
believed to repel bullets — as scouts 
in the unfamiliar jungle. 

Arthur Walker and Carl Alberts, 
two of South Africa's most highly 
decorated air force pilots, who had 
been lured away from the South 
African army in 1993 by E.O.'s 
salaries (about $6,000 a month), 
paired up to fly air strikes that would 
flush the rebels from the dense bush 

otoyraph by Al ]. Venter 


outside ot Freetown. Before each 
mission, Arthur and Carl would flip 
a coin to see who got the more excit- 
ing job of manning the guns — tour- 
barreled ll.l-mm Catlings tucked 
under the chopper's turret. When 
the pilots told the Sierra Leone mili- 
tary commander that they were hav- 
ing difficulty distinguishing between 
the rebels and civilians camped un- 
der the impenetrable canopy of vines 
and trees, the reply was, "Kill every- 
body." So they did. 

Executive Outcomes then headed 
for Kono, to cut off the financial 
pipeline that Foday Sankoh was us- 
ing to support his rebel forces. 
(Throughout the war, rebels and sol- 
diers had collaborated in slipping dia- 
monds out along the decades-old 
smugglers' trail that winds through 
the mountainous jungle into Cuinea 
and Liberia.) To camouflage their 
identity, white soldiers on the ground 
blackened their faces, and at first Fo- 
day Sankoh's rebels didn't know what 
had hit them. Once Sankoh discov- 
ered who was killing so many of his 
men, he offered a reward to anyone 
who took a South African hostage or 
downed one of their 
helicopters. But the 
rebels were over- 
whelmed by E.O.'s 
superior firepower. 

and by the time the South Africans 
rolled into Koidu in June 1995, the 
rebels and renegade soldiers had scat- 
tered into the hills and all that re- 
mained in the town were dogs and 
vultures feeding off the corpses 
strewn about the streets. 

When news spread of Kono's "lib- 
eration" by E.O., thousands t)f civil- 
ians came home from villages to the 
north and camps in Cuinea where 
they had sought refuge. The E.O. 
soldiers on the ground in Koidu pa- 
trolled all night to keep out unwant- 
ed elements, shot or arrested illegal 
diamond miners, and imposed a 
dusk-to-dawn curfew. The rebels at- 
tempted ambushes around the 
airstrip and along the main road, but 
Executive Outcomes repelled every 
incursion with overwhelming force, 
killing hundreds ot rebels, until fi- 
nally the RUF left Kono alone. 

By March of last year, E.O. had se- 
cured its key strategic objectives — 
Freetown, Kono, and the titanium 
dioxide and bauxite mines — and al- 
though several of the company's men 
had been wounded, only two had 
been killed, in an ambush. In Fehni- 
ary and March of 
1996, less than a 
year after E.O.'s 
first troops landed, 
the traumatized 

Sierra Leonian population lined uj 
the polls for the first presidential e 
tions in twenty-eight years. Ah: 
Tejan Kabbah, a career U.N. bun 
crat, won the vote; Strasser's junta 
tired into well-funded exile; M 
Sankoh agreed to come out of iKe 
bush and negotiate a ceasefire in K.'y 
Coast. By the time I arrived, in 1 
April, people in Freetown were 
scribing Sierra Leone, which had Ic 
been viewed as an intractable disas 
as a West African success story. 

Executive Outcomes was happy 
take the credit. "E.O.'s a busin 
and we're in it, of course, for 1 
money," the company's commanc 
Brigadier Bert Sachse, explained 
me when we met at a lawn party 
the British high commissioner's n 
dence. "But we also have princip 
We agreed to help out the milit 
regime because they promised 
move toward elections. Without ! 
ecutive Outcomes, there would be 
democracy here." In fact, it wa 
powerful grass-roots movement 
Sierra Leonian women, profession; 
and civil activists that had push 
Strasser and the NPRC to make v 
for the elections. But it was hard 
find anyone to dispute the brigadi( 
claim to victory. As Ceneral I 
Douglas, a Canadian negotiator 
the U.N., put it, "E.O. gave us t 
stability. In a perfect world, of coui 
we wouldn't need an organizati 
like E.O., but I'd be loath 
say they have to go just becai 
they are mercenaries." 
Humanitarian relief work 
were not so sanguine about t 
South Africans. Martha Car 

an American who worked f 

Doctors Without Borders, recal ici 
that during the early days of E.C eo 
presence in Freetown she had oi ai 
to see their helicopters flying o\ 
her house to know that it was tii 
to rush to the hospital and prep;' 
for an influx of wounded. The pik 
she said, were racist killers with 
interest in the country. Like Can 
the majority of aid workers in Sie 
Leone believed that the Sou 
Africans' actual mission was to e|sn 
tract and export the country's d 
mond wealth. 

But these voices were the exce fe 
tion, not the rule. Most Sierra Le|M 


lians I spoke to, as well as foreign 
liplomats and businessmen in Free- 
,own, seemed to take it for granted 
hat violence had been required to 
rnd the violence the population had 
tndured for so long, and that the se- 
lurity of the country rested entirely 
in E.O.'s shoulders. "They've done a 
antastic job," I was told. "They're 
xcellent mercenaries." Rarely, if 
ver, have "dogs of war" enjoyed 
uch respect. 

The country's educated 
lite were distressed by E.O.'s 
ost to the treasury and the 
nation's pride but confessed 
hat they saw no alternative. 
Our people have died, lost 
jheir limbs, lost their eyes 
j nd their properties for these 
i.lections," Sam Norma, the 
jiewly appointed deputy defense min- 
j5ter, said. "If we employ a service to 
'irotect our hard-won democracy, 
why should it be viewed 


hen people spoke about what 
executive Outcomes had provided to 
iierra Leone, the term that repeat- 
Idly arose was not "national defense" 
mt "security," because in the end 
i'hat had plagued the country was 
lot war but organized banditry. All 
ides — the rebels, the soldiers, the 
sobels," and Executive Outcomes — 
vere motivated to kill by greed and, 
n some cases, tribal and personal 
'endettas, rather than by any politi- 
al or nationalistic belief. 

It is just this kind of shift in the 
lature of war, one in which the state 
lO longer has a legal "monopoly over 
rmed violence," that Martin Van 
Ilreveld, one of the preeminent war 
heoreticians of our time, posits will 
haracterize future armed conflicts 
round the world. In his bexik The 
'transformation of War, published in 
991, Creveld argues that conven- 
ional wars waged by nation-states 
re fading from the map and that fu- 
ure "war-making entities" will re- 
emble those of the premodern era — 
ribes, city-states, religious associa- 
ions, private mercenary bands, and 
ommercial organizations such as the 
4d British East India Company. "As 
ised to be the case until at least 
648, military and economic func- 

tions will be reunited," Creveld 
writes. Or to put it more bluntly, in- 
dividual profit and glory will again 
become legitimate objectives of war. 
In such an environment, Creveld 
predicts, "much of the day-to-day 
burden of defending society against 
the threat of low-intensity conflict 
will be transferred to the booming 
security business; and indeed the 
time may come when the organiza- 
tions that comprise that business 

President kabbah's primary 

partnership is not with his people but 

with a multinational corporation 

will, like the condottieri of old, take 
over the state." 

Although Executive Outcomes 
and Branch Energy have not exactly 
taken over Sierra Leone, E.O. has 
acted as something of a recolonizing 
agent for British and South African 
corporate interests, and despite the 
millions of International Monetary 
Fund dollars that have already been 
diverted to pay E.O., the country still 
owes the firm millions more. The cur- 
rent arrangement is unsettlingly remi- 
niscent of an older world order reach- 
ing back to the days of colonial 
conquest, when private armies 
cleared the way tor European compa- 
nies to pursue commercial interests in 
Africa. Then, the British government 
would grant charters to colonial min- 
ing concerns, such as Cecil Rhodes's 
British South Africa Company, 
whose revenues would, in turn, feed 
the treasuries back home. So today. 
President Kabbah's primary partner- 
ship is not with the people who elect- 
ed him but with a multinational cor- 
poration, one that secures his power 
with force and paves the way for oth- 
er foreign investment to hi! the gov- 
ernment coffers. Such mDP.its, how- 
ever, never seem to trickle down to 
the benefit of the people, particularly 
those in the provinces, where basic 
amenities such as electricity, v/ater, 
roads, and phones barely exist. For 
Sierra Leonians living outside of Free- 
town and the diamond regions, who 
are still the victims of roadside am- 

bushes, nighttime attacks, and ma- 
chete mutilations. President Kabbah, 
foreign revenues, national defense, 
and Executive Outcomes can seem 
like irrelevant abstractions 
from some other world. 


ike Klondike, Kimberley, and 
all the other towns that have sprung 
out of the great diamond and gold 
rushes, Koidu, which grew up in the 
rush of the 1950s, belongs to no one. 
The local Kono tribe was 
long ago outnumbered by 
the influx of other Sierra 
Leonian tribes, along with 
other West Africans, Leb- 
anese, and Europeans, all 
wanting a piece of the dia- 
mond action. Dreams in- 
spired by the diamond have 
drawn so many local farmers to tear 
into their abundantly fertile land, or 
to abandon their fields altogether to 
gamble in the Kono mines, that rice 
and other staples now have to be im- 
ported. In this obsessed, hybrid min- 
ing society, the cohesion of Kono's 
traditional tribal structures was rup- 
tured. Elsewhere in the country, 
when the secret tribal leagues known 
as Poro societies realized that the 
goveriiment soldiers had run amok, 
they declared martial law, fought off 
the rebels and renegade soldiers, and 
emerged as an autonomous shadow 
government to replace the collapsing 
state apparatus. But in Koidu and 
the surrounding villages, the people 
had no such defenders and thus tied 
en masse when attacked. 

The diamond in Kono has always 
wielded greater authority than the lo- 
cal paramount chief or the state presi- 
dent or the foreign investors. Some 
people said that the diamond is alive, 
diat it has a tire you can feel. Others 
said it is the fire of the devil. The 
people in Kono pray at mosque and at 
church to find the big stone. They 
sacrifice goats and red cocks and 
Iambs, and sprinkle the blood around 
the mining site to appease the devils 
of the place. Raymond, a Christian 
preacher and soldier guarding a min- 
ing site, explained the sacrifices to me 
one atternoon as we watched a local 
chief slit a goat's neck and leach its 
blood into a pan of soil. "Maybe you 
don't believe in the devils, so you can 


go along and get money and stones, 
he said. "But if you have the native 
helief, like 1 do, and you dou t sacri- 
fice to them, the work will never gii 
smoothly." Tales ot total loss were 
certainly easier to ccnne hy in Kono 
than tales of the big score. 

Kassim Basma, i Lebanese in his 
mid-fifties, is one of the most estab- 
lished diamond dons in Koidu. 
When word reached Kont) that Ex- 
ecutive Outcomes might be leaving, 
he and his fellow Lebanese mer- 
chants offered to foot the bill for an 
E.O. contingent themselves. Kassim, 
a small, gray-haired man with a fa- 
mously sweet tongue, had lost mil- 
lions of dollars during the twti rebel 
invasions of Kono, and each time he 
had managed to recoup his bundle. 
Now his shop was open day and 
night, and a steady parade of sol- 



diers, government officials, and min- 
ers filed through an alley filled with 
squawking chickens, generators, 
tires, and fuel tanks, and past his 
squad ot personal security guards, to 
make deals in his dingy office. 

One morning, I found Kassim in 
blue silk pajamas, sitting behind his 
desk between a steel safe and a ham 
radio that operated off a truck bat- 
tery. (The phone lines remained cut, 
and only people with private genera- 
tors had electricity; Kono's water 
works had also been destroyed — not 
by the war but by Kassim, who had 
recklessly machine-mined into the 
dams.) He was hunched under a 
fluorescent lamp, studying a large eli- 
amond through a loupe, twirling the 
stone around and around against his 
half-inch-long pinky fingernail. He 
dropped it into a black dish, poked it 
with tweezers, weighed if on :i 
miniature scale, then raised his head, 
squinted at his customers, ani.1 
smiled. Three Sierra Leonian men in 
brightly colored robes sat across from 
him swinging their legs, confident in 
the quality of their offering. 


He shook his head. "CoK)r not 
bad, .shape not good." They argued. 
He offered $14,000. They wanted 

A few military policemen loaded 
with greiiades and guns suddenly 
walked in and reported that they'd 
just tmcked eighty-nine renegade sol- 
diers off to prist)n in Freetown. Kassim 
put down his loupe and paid the MPs 
with several rolls of leones, the na- 
tional currency. "Security," he saii.! to 
me and smiled, waving away a mos- 
tjuito. It was all .st) smooth, just anoth- 
er business expense. The MPs ex- 
changeii a few words and a laugh with 
the diamond sellers and then left. 

Kassim looked back at his cus- 
tomers as if there'd been no interrup- 
tion. "You come to me because you 
want for make profit, eh.' I give you 
$16,500, 1 L)se." The palaver went 
on until the Sierra 
Leonians left with 
the stone. "1 know 
them," Kassim 
said. "They will try 
everywhere else. 
Then they will be 
back to take the 
$14,000, eh?" he 
said, his lips, eyes, and ears rising in 
his signature flashing smile. The 
stone would probably fetch him 
three or four times that much on his 
next trip to the Antwerp market. 

Later that afternoon I went to vis- 
it ime of Kassim's sprawling open-pit 
mines. Hundreds of people, spread 
out along terraces of heavy sand, 
were diggirig up the topsoil to get 
down to the mineral-rich gravel. 
They were paid between one and 
five dollars a day, plus some rice. It 
looked like a massive excavation 
site. After all that labor, tht)ugh, no 
ancient city would be di.scovered and 
no buildings would be erected; in- 
stead, hundreds ot thousands of cou- 
ples around the world would cimse- 
crate their engagements with the 
little stone ferreted out of the mud. 

Hopping dowti one of the sand 
walls to get a closer look, I suddenly 
found myself sinking into a pit of 
gritty, yellow and red sludge. Several 
men lunged at me and dragged me 
out but didn't let go. Others packed 
in close. At least sixteen hands were 
all over me, pulling gravel off my 

jeans, out from between my to 
scratching inside my satidals, arou 
my ankles, and behind my kne 
yanking bits of sand off my hand 
thought such chivalric concern 
my cleanliness a bit excessive, 1: 
then 1 saw that the men were ban 
aware of me. Their eyes were fixat 
on the bits of mud still clinging 
me. It was the precious, diamon 
filled gravel, unearthed by hours 
toil under the midday sun, that th 
were trying to protect. Their fing^ 
pecked at me like vultures vying 
carrion. And although they bore 
no malice — when they were do 
with me everyone laughed heartily 
it was easy to see how quickly su 

professional greed cou 

turn violent. 





.n August 1995, a few months 
ter the South Africans occupi 
Kono, one of the worst massacres 
the war was committed in Njaian 
Nimikoro, a village just thirty mi 
utes from E.O.'s base in Koidu. Nj 
iama was the place where, in 1930 
British colonial officer discovere 
the country's first diamond a 
where, during the war, a new poii 
of access to a subterranean kimbe 
lite diamond dike had been foun 
Officers of the Sierra Leonian mi 
tary who controlled the area sa 
this new vein of riches as theirs 
exploit, but the representative 
the local paramount chief claime 
the prize as his own and berated t 
soldiers for mining instead of c 
fending the people, as the Sou 
Africans did. Shortly thereaft 
armed men attacked the village 
night, slaughtering between 150 ar 
250 civilians. The victims we 
burned alive in their huts, hacke ^^ 
with machetes, or shot. The survi\ 
ing villagers believed that the al |p 
tackers were the military, trying t 
teach them a lesson. 

Although E.O.'s men arrived o iH^ 
the scene only after the killers ha 
fled, they were regarded locally a 
the heroes of the story. They ha 
saved two babies, whose mothers ha 
been killed, and the woman who lat 
er adopted one of the orphan 
named him "Colonel Rudolph" afte 
the Afrikaner, Colonel Roelf Vai 
Heerden, who commarided Kono. / 


;w hagiography had begun, and the 
DUth Africans were quick to en- 
iiurage it. 

Sahfillie Matturi, the paramount 
lief of Njaiama and the architect who 
id designed most of Koidu's prairie- 
ji/le buildings, lost much of his ex- 
jaded family in the massacre. He told 
e that he admired the 
<i)uth Africans' profes- 
Imalism. "Our soldiers 
n away even though 
ey have rifles. But these 
)Uth Africans, when the 
Dels are there, they go 
iid succeed in decimat- 
g them." And Chief 
atturi had no problem 
ith E.O.'s politics. 
)uth Africa, he ex- 
ained, had endured 
any years of war and 
huld now spare a few 
lits to help its belea- 
ered African brethren, 
blonel Roelf did noth- 
g to dispel these illu- 
)ns. "1 have a wonderful 
lationship with the chiefs," he said, 
liey tell the people we are Africans 
id that Mandela has sent us. I don't 
mt to confuse them." (In fact, Ex- 
utive Outcomes is an embarrassment 
Nelson Mandela, and the South 
frican government is trying to ban 
ganizations like E.O. from employing 
rmer South African soldiers to fight 
foreign countries.) 
The power and status of the 
aite Africans were enhanced by 
cal notions about black magic and 
Kite magic. "There's a myth 
iiong traditional village folk that 
lite people are morally enlight- 
led," explained Joe Opala, an 
merican anthropologist who has 
/ed in Sierra Leone for twenty- 
le years. "The myth is that 
fricans fight against each other 
id bring their neighbor down 
lile white people have progressed 
■cause they work together. They 
y this is why Africans have de- 
ructive witchcraft and whites 
ivc high-tech magic, like radios, 
otors, and planes." Many people 
Kono believed that the South 
fricans had a satellite receiver on 
eir hilltop perch that watched 
em and would protect them from 

the rebels. The rebels believed that 
the South Africans had the power 
to spot and attack their bases from 
the sky at night, and the rebels were 
right: E.O.'s helicopters were fitted 
with infrared night-vision devices. 

The white Africans exploited 
these local beliefs. One afternoon I 

disease. This is what they teach us in 
the South African Defeuce Eorces." 
He cackled loudly, and the Sierra 
Leonians resptinded with nervous 

Later, the local chief gathered the 
people around Rick under a cotton 
tree. He said that Rick was an African, 
a black man with white 
skin who understood the 
black man's troubles and 
had come to end their 
suffering. The chief 
dubbed him Moses: like 
Moses saving the Is- 
raelites from Pharaoh, 
Rick had saved the 
people from their cor- 
iLipt former overlords. 
Behind the myth, the 
facts were much more 
prosaic, and typical of 
the coarse brutality of 


drove with Rick Verster, a 
South African, and his Sierra 
Leonian workers along a muddy 
track he'd cleared through the 
hush. A former military intelli- 
gence officer who grew up in 
Zululand, Rick had come to 
Sierra Leone on the heels of 
E.O. to try his luck as a miner. 
He was transporting his workers to a 
mining site on the Bafi River, and 
they took the occasion to complain 
that he wasn't providing them with 
enough food. Rick said nothing. 
Then, suddenly, he slammed on the 
brakes, jumped out, ran behind the 
Laiid Rover, and returned to the 
window holding a small poisonous 
night adder. The Africans shrank 
back in terror as he dangled the 
snake over his face, bit off its head, 
spat it out, and drt)pped the body in 
his mouth. His jaws and cheeks 
shook as he chewed up t(u: snake 
and swallowed it. The Ahicans mur- 
mured words to God. 

Rick spat out some adder mulch 
and, trying to ajie the local tongue, 
said: "Why yoLi alv^ays wait for me 
for food.' YoLi liLingry, go to Jtj bush 
and get food. De snake and de bush 
food build de body immunity against 


the place: Rick, a 220-pound former 
paratrooper, had punched out the teeth 
oi the corrupt mining boss who had 
precede(.l him and promised the same 
for anyone else who tried to 

Imess with him. 
an Fleming's 1956 novel Dia- 
monds Are Forever opens with a few 
South Africans perched on a veld 
near the border between Sierra 
Leone and Guinea, operating a 
smuggling pipeline and worrying 
ab<.nv the heat coming down from 
til., deadly L^iamond Corporation 
men. Fleming based his James Bond 
tale on reality. In the 1950s, Harry 
Oppenheimer, the South African 
chairman of De Beers, set out to 
crLish his competitors in Sierra 
Leone by enlisting Sir Percy Sillitoe, 
one of Britain's top counterespi- 
onage agents during World War II, 

ituKHiphs hy 1'. Ri)licTr/Sy)^ni; 


who had retired and was sellinf^ 
chcKcilates tin the ctiast of Enj^land. 
Sillitoe orchestrated an intelligence 
network oi local informants alonj^ 
the smuggling trail, hired an army of 
mercenaries, and launched an all-out 
diamond war. The mercenaries laid 

ship hetween E.O. and the Sierra 
Leonians seemed typically colonialist 
and patronizing, Chief Matturi took a 
forgiving, almost fatherly view of the 
South Africans. These whites had 
been kept at arm's length by the 
world for long enough. Nt)w that 












"i^U:;. -"-^ 













■ ak^r 





■ .J _^_;--.^z_-T,-5 , — 







boohy traps, mined the border cross- 
ings, and ambushed the smugglers — 
predominantly Mandingo tribesmen 
and Lebanese — until finally they 
were persuaded to sell their wares to 
the De Beers buyers. 

Chief Matturi remembered 
"those dark old days" when the 
British ran Kono like a police state, 
with checkpoints, spies, and a pri- 
vate, impiirted security force. Al- 
though he said he would never 
choose to return iv that time, he 
recalled that when independence 
came, "I didn't want io see the 
British leave us yet. "We weren't 
ripe for autonomy." Native indus- 
trialization of the diamond busi- 
ness — cutting, polishing, and set- 
ting — which might have led to real 
independence when the colonial- 
ists left, never took place, histead, 
he said, "the ct>rruption just flowed 
in and brought us down." 

Although the scenario under Exec- 
utive Outcomes was not that differ- 
ent, Matturi thought the tension be- 
tween whites and blacks had subsided 
significantly since the colonial days. 
Whereas to an outsi^ler the relation- 


they'd reconciled their differences at 
he)me, he thought they ought to he 
given a chance to apply their energies 
elsewhere and renegotiate their rela- 
tionship to black Africa. 

The South Africans themselves 
eagerly embraced the idea of their 
work as a kind of post-apartheid re- 
demption. One E.O. pilot 1 met at 
the Kono airstrip recalled how 
moved he was by the gratitude of 
the Sierra Leonians and the chil- 
dren in Freetown who ran after him 
screaming, "Bafana Bafana" (the 
name of the revered South African 
soccer team). "Maybe there is life af- 
ter apartheid," he said. He was 
thinking about staying on in Sierra 
Leone to start up a heli- 

(^ copter service. 
^ iilonel Roett, his Afrikaner 
officers, and a few dozen of his 
black African troops had occupied a 
compound of battered stone houses, 
the old residences of the now-aban- 
doned Standard Bank, high on a 
hill overlooking the diamond fields. 
The setting suited their role as the 
lords of Kono and the watchdogs of 

the mines. If there was a probljn 
with a thief, a rapist, a renegade ^ 
dier, or an illicit miner, the loc||| 
went to "Colonel Rudolph," niit'o 
the police. One blisteringly hot -fr 
ternoon a grmip of women came 
request protection for a festival ;i 
soccer game they were hold 
down at the river. Ro 
promised to help. "I am the <. 
budsman," he told me. 

A fastidious sort, wiry a 
tanned, with a full mustac] 
and heard and tinted spectac 
Roelf looked very much |t 
home sitting in his fatigues i 
der the thatch-and-bamb 
canopy that his troops h 
erected on the hill. A chiii 
named Tommy, one of E.C 
pets, leaped off the bamb 
rafters and onto Roelf's hl 
The South Africans had inje 
ed a little "civilization" i 
their rustic outpost — a ho 
made bush saloon, replete w 
stools, carved bar, refrigerat 
beer, lights, and boom b 
Every Friday night they had 
away-from-home braaivleis, !i 
Afrikaner open-air barbecue, wi| 
beef flown in from South Afri 
and encTugh booze to get slosh 
and have a good "punch-up." Wh 
a new diamond prospector froii 
North America, Europe, or Sou 
Africa landed in Kono, he wou 
inevitably roll up to E.O.'s bar 
get an update on security or just 
hang out. 

Colonel Roelf, a Namibian-bo 
Afrikaner, had spent most of 1: 
professional life trying to cru 
black nationalist movements 
southern Africa on behalf of tl 
apartheid regime; he described oi 
of his old units as specialists in p 
litical assassinations. He said he h; 
no regrets about his past exploi 
on the contrary, he was proud 
them. But there was somethin 
even more empowering about 
current position as Kono's belov' 
marshal and humanitarian, and 
embraced the job, chairing to 
meetings and offering E.O. helj 
copters to transport demobilize 
child soldiers to Freetown. Tb 
Konos showed their appreciatir 
for their new protector by makin 


rhotograph hy AI J. Veni 


im one of their own, calling him 
3ahr," the name traditionally giv- 
;a|'n to a firstborn son. 

"We want to help African coun- 
ies to neutralize their rebel wars 
nd not depend on the U.N, to solve 
irjieir problems. We are something 
iij:ke the U.N. of Africa, only with a 
epaller budget," Roelf said grandly, 
M'ipping a beer. He put his arm 
round the chief hunter of Kono, 
n 'ho had come by to discuss 
mmunition, and added, 
^These people don't want 
he Americans or the U.N. 
Jt the British here. We are 
he only ones they trust, be- 
ause they know we are 

Roelf became aggressive 

TTid territorial when speaking about 

jlither whites encroaching on his 

urf, as did all of E.O.'s Afrikaners. 

South Africans are the only whites 

n the world with the right to ex- 

licit Africa," they often told me. 

It's our continent." They resented 

he Americans and Europeans who 

riticized the Afrikaners' racism 

:nd way of life but who had the 

uxury of flying in to do business, 

lave an adventure, and then fly 

lome again. Beneath Roelf s pater- 

lalism and colonial arrogance to- 

jvard the Sierra Leonians lurked a 

undamental anxiety and fear of ex- 

linction that afflicted most 

Afrikaners, who were, after all, a 

minority. Such insecurities had 

haped the Boer character and 

i teered Boer politics for centuries. 

From the company's hilltop base, 
me could see on the horizon an 
;normous domed granite rock, close 
jo the Guinean border along the old 
imugglers' trail. The village below 
j;he rock was famous for its witch- 
paft and powerful healers. Some 
oierra Leonians said that the rock 
vas the birthplace of voodoo. For 
:he Afrikaners the rock represented 
mother kind of magic: their old 
;ovenant with their God. They 
:alled it the Voortrekker Monu- 
ment, because it resembled the 
■nonolithic shrine of the same name 
;hat looms over Pretoria and com- 
nemorates the Boer settlers' pact 
A'ith God and God's subsequent 
land in their victory over 10,000 

Zulus in 1838. The Boers' sense of 
vulnerability persisted, however, and 
metamorphosed into the violent 
paranoia that dominated the 
apartheid era. Now, once again, the 
Afrikaners believe that they are in a 
fight for nothing less than the sur- 
vival of their tribe, their history, and 
their culture. 

With the end of apartheid, Afri- 
kaners suffered a political defeat, but 




ironically, at the same moment, the 
entire African continent opened up 
to them. Suddenly, they could travel 
and trade freely in countries that pre- 
viously would have expelled them the 
moment they arrived at the airport. 
And so they began to scramble over 
the continent, shoring up economic 
turf as compensation for their loss of 
political power. Roelf imagined him- 
self carrying on in the tradition of the 
self-reliant Boer pioneers of yore. 
"The Boers are the only colonialists 
left in Africa," he said, without a hint 
of apology. "And now 
we're moving north." 


enri de Montherlant, a 
French writer and adventurer who 
had plunged eagerly into World W;ir 
1, once wrote how he "loved life at 
the front, the bath in the elemental, 
the annihilation of the intelligence 
and the heart." Montherlant, a flam- 
boyant romantic, may not have cut 
the typical figure of a soldier, but 
there will always be men who find 
war an exhilarating experience and 
become addicted to it. For some, it's 
a great relief to be freed of the bur- 
den of constructing a life. And as 
long as there's a cause, whether God, 
country, family, or honor, they will 
be able to justify the killing. E.O.'s 
workforce was largely made up of 
such battle-hardened soldiers, most 
of whom had been at war for os/er fif- 
teen years, fighting for a Wciy of life 
that they believed in deeply, howev- 
er objectionable it seemed to the rest 

of the world. As the political land- 
scape in South Africa shifted, depos- 
ing the white regime, these former 
heroes were cast onto the margins of 
society. Overnight, they became a 
disillusioned, lost generation. For 
some who joined E.O., the transition 
from killing for a cause to killing for 
a bank account proved psychologi- 
cally destabilizing. 

The day before 1 left Kono, one of 
the South Africans, whom 
I'll call Jan, offered to drive 
me to look for a local priest 
who was working with de- 
mobilized child soldiers. 
Unlike the child soldiers, 
Jan, who was in his early 
forties, could not go back to 
civilian life. He wouldn't 
know how. He could look very hard 
and very mean, with his deeply 
creased skin tucked into a perma- 
nent squint around cerulean eyes. 
He didn't like talking very much 
and often seemed on the verge of an 
enraged explosion. As a young cor- 
poral in South Africa, Jan got into 
some trouble, and for punishment 
he was offered up to Barlow's 32 
Battalion, secretly formed in 1975 
to destabilize the pro-communist 
Angolan government. 

Jan remembered his first search- 
and-destroy mission, tracking the 
enemy into Angola, killing every- 
thing that moved — "sheep, cattle, 
civilians, everything." Eventually, 
he became inured to the killing, just 
as he became inured to inflicting 
beatings and torture, "the things 
you have to do," he said, "to get in- 
formation and stay alive." Before it 
was disbanded, Jan told me, the 32 
Battalion was honored in South 
Africa for having the highest "kill 
rate" of any unit. He was still proud 
ot that. "1 worked for my govern- 
ment to protect my people and did 
what 1 was told to do. If we killed 
terrorists in their beds, it was be- 
cause they were hiding weapons. Is 
that so wrong i"" 

As the jeep rattled through the 
dusty streets, children ran out from 
under the thatched roofs of the mud 
huts, shouting, "South African," wav- 
ing and laughing, and the young boys 
gave the thumbs-up to Jan. After a 
brief attempt at resistance, Jan broke 


out lau^jhing. He said that it was a 
completely new experience to be 
liked by locals. Maybe, he said, he'd 
finally done some good in his lite. 

Later, at the church, whether be- 
cause of the children or the possibil- 
ity of a vaguely sympathetic 
ear, Jan said that he wanted 
to tell me a story. Before 
coming to Sierra Leone, Jan 
said, he had worked with 
E.O. in Angola. They had 
just captured Cacolo, an im- 
portant diamond town. 
Dead civilians were lying 
everywhere in the streets. Jan came 
to a small chapel called St. Joseph's 
Mission that had been badly shot 
up. Terrified kids were running 
around the grourids. Jan took one 
skinny little boy under his wing, 
looked after him, fed him, and let 
him sleep at the foot of his bed. The 
place had passed back and forth in- 
numerable times during some twen- 
ty years of war, and the boy told him 
that every time the rebels took it 
they killed all the people who 
couldn't run away. "1 loved that lit- 
tle boy," Jan said. "My mistake." 

Jan's unit was soon transferred 
from CacoU) to Angola's coastal i)il 
fields. Sometime later, word reached 
him that Cacolo had fallen again to 
the rebels. He was sure that they'd 
killed his boy, he told me, and then 
for a while he said nothing. He was 
holding his breath, and the artery 
along his neck was pulsing furiously. 
When I saw his tears, I knew he was 
crying not only about the boy but 
about his whole life. Whether he had 
protected the boy because he wanted 
human companionship or as a kin>.l 
of redemption for the years he'd 
spent decimating Angola, Jan ulti- 
mately saw the gesture as futile. 

Jan admitted that he often didn't 
feel great about what he had hael to do 
as an enforcer of apartheid. "I've done 
a lot of terrible things," he said, "but 1 
can't change that now." At least 
when he was a member of a govern- 
ment army, someiine else had been in 
charge, providing easy explanations 
for why he was killing. He didn't have 
to think. Paradoxically, now that he 
felt some pride in his wt)rk and could 
even see how much the Sierra Leoni- 
ans appreciated his presence, his con- 

science was in turmoil. He had no al- 
legiances anytnore, and no good ex- 
planation for why he was still at war. 
"It you're killing for your government, 
your people, your fatherland, you have 
some loyalty. It's here," he said, grab- 



bing his breast. "But if you're no 
longer killing for your government or 
ytHir country, you're a murderer. So 
what does that make me?" 

Tomorrow, 1 knew, Jan would 
push away these confusing emotions 
and go back to his trade, because in 
the end, as he told me, it was all he 
knew how to do, and he loved a 

good fight. It kept him 

alert and alive. 


_rom its inception. Executive Out- 
comes has exhibited an institutional 
genius for surfing the changing waves 
of African history, and its greatest 
P.R. problem has been not in the 
countries where it fights but at home 
in South Africa. The company's first 
major contract was with the Angolan 
geivernment, an alliance that took all 
observers by suqirise. This was, after 
all, the same Angolan government 
that the South African Defence 
Forces — including all of E.O.'s em- 
ployees — had vigorously fought to 
destabilize since the mid-1970s. 

For hard-liners in South Africa's 
military establishment, E.O.'s ac- 
tion was the ultimate betrayal, and 
they pushed for South Africa's jus- 
tice (.lepartment to take action 
against the firm. But nothing was 
done. With the end t)t the Cold 
War, and Mandela's election, the 
special forces and covert units of 
the apartheid regime were disband- 
ed, and the existence of E.O. actu- 
ally solved a potentially dangerous 
military unemployment problem in 
South Africa. For elite commandos, 
who had reason to tear prosecution 
for apartheid political crimes, E.O. 
provided a golden parachute into 
exile and salaries three times higher 


than those of the peacetime nati 
al army. 

Eeben Barlow, his South Afri 
partners, and his London collea] 
Anthony Buckingham, pulled O' 
priceless coup, purloining the bes 
the South African spec 
forces to do their dirty w 
in Africa's danger zor 
while back in Pretoria, I 
ow can sip coffee and ( 
cuss the company's goals 
ing phrases like 
enforcement" and "stabil 
tion." Barlow's villa har 
evokes the air of a battlefield opi 
tion, even in the boardroom, wh 
the walls are animated with anm 
report photos of bearded camoufla; 
men at battle and a framed co 
poster of a CD and video that E 
commissioned called "Dogs of W; 
(Like a proper corporation, E.O. 
also produced a slew of advertis 
items — pens, lighters, badges, 
T-shirts stamped with its logo, 
chessboard knight.) 

Barlow seems to be taking his c| > 
from art as much as from lite. But 
little world is not fiction, and in fac! 
gives a shape to one of the latest 
tries in the lexicon of conflict ans 
sis: the "privatization of violenc 
TTiis phenomenon is as old as the f 
hit man, but the coinage reflect 
new trend. In Colombia, British I 
troleum has hired a battalion 
Colombian soldiers to guard agaii 
guerrilla attacks. (Tlie drug lords ha| 
done the same thing.) In Haiti, fom!f 
soldiers have been consigned by 
wealthy to form private family fon 
In Liberia, industrial gangs are e 
ployed by foreign corporations to 
tract natural resources. Governm 
armies will of course do the same, s 
the United States did to protect its ] 
interests in the Persian Gulf. At t i 
urging of the United States, Croa I 
hired Military Professional ResourJi 
Inc. — a private firm of retired U.t 
generals, based in Alexandria, V') 
ginia — to prepare the Croatian arif 
for a counterotfensive against tij 
Serbs in the summer of 1995. (MPF; 
as the timi is known, is now trainii; 
the Bosnians and is reported to ha|; 
picked up E.O.'s contract in Angola!' 
The phrase "privatization of vi> 
lence" attempts to describe a shl: 


t of the age of geopolitics into the 
e of geoeconomics, in which trade 
itranks ideology and the superpow- 
.; are no longer going to plunge into 
war- torn Third World country (as 
,ey would have a decade or two ear- 
it) and disgorge arms, mercenaries, 
iid development aid to contain the 
fluence of the other superpower. 
; ith the end of the Cold War, the 
availing attitude toward Africa, es- 
cially in America, is that Africa's 
irs are not, after all, our problem. 
'When an African political crisis 
es erupt into international atten- 
m — as in Zaire and Rwanda this 
1st fall — it is treated by the powers- 
lat-be in the U.N. Security Coun- 
|i as a purely humanitarian crisis, 
,len with disastrous results. Al- 
ough the idea of killing to end 
jQing confounds the genteel sensi- 
lity, the fact remains that wars 
[icd to be won, one way or another. 
Sierra Leone, E.O.'s decisive in- 
.rvention allowed at least three 
iindred thousand people to return 
: their homes in Kono and many 
iiousands more elsewhere. 
Even in Washington foreign-poli- 
circles, where people feel com- 
dled to limit their on-the-record 
■mmentary to expressions of disap- 
oval at the idea of private armies 
nning loose around the globe, 
0. has a certain appeal. Unlike 
ith a U.N. or American force, 
O.'s decision makers are not ac- 
'untable to any constituency when 
'I employees are killed. During a 
und of creative thinking at the 
■S. National Security Council this 
i:St November about securing a hu- 
anitarian corridor for the fleeing 
A/andan Hutu refugees, someone 
ggested using Executive Out- 
mes. The idea was dismissed when 
iC question was raised of who 
3uld pay the bill. Nevertheless, 
ashington analysts do not hesi- 
te — off the record — to tally the 
lormous costs of the U.N.'s failed 
acekeeping operation in Angola 
ainst E.O.'s quick success there. 
: was the best fifty or sixty million 
)llars the Angolan government 
er spent," one Washington de- 
:ise expert told me. 
"Executive Outcomes," he added, 
> the small wave of the tutLire in 

terms of defense and security, be- 
cause the international community 
has abdicated that role." As he saw 
it, the privatization of defense on the 
international scene is not that differ- 
ent from a similar trend at home. In 
the United States, he said, "you al- 
ready see more and more people hir- 
ing private security firms to keep the 
Third World away from suburban 

Like a hawk riding the thermals, 
Barlow is simply capitalizing on the 
shifting currents. Sitting in his ele- 
gant living room, he told me that he 
encourages his men to read up on 
the works of two of 
Newt Gingrich's gu- 
rus, the futurokigists 
Heidi and Alvin Tof- 
fler, whose book ^ar 
and Anti-War offers 
the pop version of 
Van Creveld. "It dis- 
cusses the role of the 
military in the chang- 
mg political environ- 
ment," Barlow ex- 
plained. The soldier 
of the future will 
have to be competi- 
tive. In the old 
South African mili- 
tary. Barlow said, 
"you got paid if you 
did the work or not. 
Our approach is that 
if you cannot prove 
or show you do your 
work, you're not part 
of us anymore." A military force un- 
der a nation's flag cannot operate 
that way, he added. "Orily a com- 
mercial outfit like Executive Out- 
comes can." 

Barlow has managed to dress up 
the old idea of white dominance on 
the African continent in the new 
rhetoric of the global marketplace. 
The army is now just one spoke in 
the wheel of Strategic Resources 
Corporation, an umbrella compa- 
ny — Barlow is just one oi many 
board members — that has been 
spawning joint British-South 
African and third-country conip.i- 
nies at the rate of about ten r year, 
working in everything fn:)m oil and 
diamond mining, teleconununica- 
tions, arms supplies, security guards. 

land-mine deactivating, and water 
drilling to safari travel. 

For the time being. Barlow is con- 
cerned with keeping the image of his 
company clean as he builds his em- 
pire. He claims to have rejected pro- 
posals from the Sudanese rebels, 
from Algerian religious factions, 
from Rwanda's former Hutu regime, 
from former Yugoslav states. "We're 
not going to work for a government 
that supports terrorist movements or 
commits genocide. We won't get in- 
volveef in religious wars or a conflict 
where we don't understand the par- 
ticular politics," he says. "We are not 


someone's cannon fodder." He in- 
sists that E.O. will work only for "le- 
gitimate" governments, a criterion 
that gives license to an enormous 
latitude of principle, since legitimacy 
seems merely to mean whoever con- 
trols the palace, be it Sierra Leone's 
Valentine Strasser, Iraq's Saddam 
Hussein, or Zaire's dictator, Mobutu 
Svse Seko (with whom E.O. is re- 
portedly negotiating, although Bar- 
low denies it). Barlow's record is 
"clean" to date. But he is account- 
able to no nation and no legal body. 
His law is the marketplace. And if 
the geoeconomic world order should 
require Barlow to adapt his services 
for a new kind of client, there isn't 
much to prevent the chameleon 
from once again changing colors. h 

atograph hy Brt-nt Stirtiin / Gar 




Inside a Colombian cartels mc v 

This chart was ccintiscated from the cnmpiitcr cit Franklin Jura- 
do, a Harvard-educated Culomhian economist who confessed 
last spring to having laundered $36 million in profits from U.S. 
cocaine sales for Jose Santacruz-Londofit), one of the top figures 
in the Cali cartel. The chart comes at the end of a twenty-page 
memorandum that Jurado, now fifty, wrote from his hase in Lux- 
embourg to his bosses in Cali. In it he outlined each step of an 
elaborate process to obscure the source and holder of the illicit 
funds by channeling the money through bank accounts and 
front companies around the world. Jurado, who was paid $1,000 
a day for his efforts, represented his system in this chart, a "virtu- 
al road map to Jurado's scheme," according to his prt)secutor. 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Lemer. The system had two 
stages. The first Jurado dubbed the "Kennedification Stage," re- 
ferring to Joseph Kennedy's ability to cleanse his bootlegging 
profits by channeling them into legitimate investments. Jurado 
hoped t(T replicate Kennedy's success with a five-phase process. 
"A phase," he wrote, "is a transition period during which assets 
move from a higher to a lower level of risk." Jurado's ultimate 
goal was to scrub the dnig money so clean that it could be repa- 
triated to Colombia and invested in Santacruz's numerous "le- 
gitimate" companies. (The chart and memo were introduced as 
evidence and translated from the original Spanish by the U.S. 
Dmg Enforcement Agency.) 

The complexity of Jurado's system was due to the extraordinary 
scrutiny with which international-banking and drug-enforce- 
ment authorities view large sums moving into or out of Colom- 
bia. To avoid this scrutiny, during the mid-'80s the Cali bosses 
initiated what Jurado later called "Phase 0" by having their 
couriers deposit $64 million in small bills friim U.S. drug sales 
into the First InterAmericas Bank in Panama City. In his 
memo, Jurado notes that Phase assets are extremely vulnerable 
because they "are quite close to their liquid source, in question- 
able banking markets, and are susceptible to outside scrutiny." 
The Cali bosses found this out the hard way when, in 1985, 
Panamanian authorities discovered that the InterAmericas 
"bank" was controlled by the Cali cartel, had no bona fide cus- 
tomers, and was merely a house equipped with a large living- 
room table for counting money. Panama froze $28 million in as- 
sets that could be directly linked to the drug traffickers; the 
cartel quickly shifte>.l the rest into other Panamanian banks. In 
early 1987, Edgar Garcia, a Santacruz lieutenant, hired Jurado — 
who had previously helped to establish the Cali Stock Ex- 
change — to purify the remaining $36 million by transferring it 
out of suspect Latin banking markets and filtering it through a 
series of increasingly more pristine European holdings. At each 
step the cash became cleaner; the waters, muddier. 


O N 


ng machine, by Mark Schapiro 

k Schapiro writes for the New York Times, The Nn- 
, and Conde Nast Traveler. His last piece for Har- 
i Magazine, "The Fine Art of Sexual Harassment," ap- 
id in the July 1994 issue. He lives in New York City. 

Tlie Call cartel had already begun Phase 1 by depositing the $36 
million into more credible Panamanian banks. However, the as- 
sets were still easily traceable and remained in a country notori- 
ous as a drug-money-laundering haven. To overcome this "geo- 
graphic" barrier, Jurado used the Panamanian offices of Merrill 
Lynch and other financial institutions to change the cash into 
money orders that could then be wired to Europe as bank-to- 
bank transfers. To prepare for Phase 2, Jurado had in the mean- 
time established himself in Luxembourg and traveled through- 
out Europe, meeting with bankers to assess their rules regarding 
foreign investments. Jurado's memo details the pros and cons of 
money laundering in twelve countries, and his analysis provides 
some surprises. Austria, Jurado wrote, "is extremely open to our 
type of deposits; it also offers extraordinary facilities in terms of 
confidentiality and banking discretion," including coded or 
pseudonymous accounts and the ability to open accounts by 
mail. Hungarian banks seeking Western capital were also pleas- 
antly receptive. Banks in Scotland and the Channel Islands, 
with putative autonomy from British banking authorities, were a 
"financial paradise." But Jurado suggested avoiding Switzerland, 
where pressure from the U.S. Treasury Department was creating 
a "lack of trustworthiness in reference to confidentiality." 

His analysis complete, Jurado was ready to begin Phase 2: bury- 
ing the money's origin by transfeixing it out of Panama and into 
European accounts, each listing a European address tor the ac- 
count holder. Once in banks subject to the rules of the Euro- 
pean Community, the money would acquire the luster of credi- 
bility — hence the "legal" advantage. Over a three-year period, 
Jurado coordinated the transfer of U.S. dollars from the Pana- 
manian banks into more than one hundred accounts in sixty- 
eight banks in nine countries: Austria, Denmark, the United 
Kingdom, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, and 
Monaco. Opening deposits ranged from $50,000 to $L000,000 
apiece, money that Jurado told bank examiners came from "cat- 
tle," "clothing," and "sugar" interests in Colombia. To diversify 
the holdings, Jurado initiated a two-pronged attack. Where pos- 
sible he opened accounts by mail, using signatures from three of 
Santacruz's mistresses in Cali. The remainder were opened dur- 
ing junkets in which Jurado, Garcia, and Heriberto Castro-Meza 
and Esperanza Rodriguez de Castro — Santacruz's in-laws — 
would travel throughout Europe visiting banks willing to accept 
Colombian clients. Most of the accounts were opened in the 
name of Castro-Meza or his wife, but Jurado maintained power 
of attorney. A final tally compiled by the U.S. Atton-iey's office 
included seventy-seven accounts assigned to Santacruz's in-laws, 
another twelve in the names of his mistresses, and dozens using 
codes or European-sounding names later traced back to Jurado. 

Continued on next page 


ContmuL'J/iiini /nvcioKS /xisj^' 

A N Ntl 

Tracing the money liack to Jiiradu and the others would prove 
to Iv no easy task. Usint; his power of attorney twer all the ac- 
counI^, jurado physically and electronically shifted assets be- 
tween them, attempting tti keep the balance iii each as low as 
possible to avoid suspicion. Each transfer was kept under the 
amount (usually about $10,000) that automatically triggers an 
investigation by hank examiners — a precaution known as 
"smurfing." Jurado also began Phase 3: obscuring the nationality 
of the acct)unt holders by transferring assets into new accounts 
iipened under European names such as "Peter Hoffman" and 
"Hannika Schinidt." Assigning accounts to fictitious Europeans 
removed the "political" barrier — the heightened surveillance 
generally given to Colombian or Hispanic-sumamed accounts. 

Jurado then began to establish European front companies that, 
during Phase 4, would receive investments from the fictitiiHis 
European account holders. Once deposited in these front com- 
panies, the money would be all hut untraceable; local officials 
would have no cause, Jurado noted, "whether geographic, legal, 
political or psychological to investigate the assets. . . . [P]ast this 
stage all assets may he used in any market with no significant 
questioning." The liltimate goal of Jurado's scheme was to cre- 
ate a self-contained cartel economy, in w'hich cash could be 
shuttled at will between front companies in Europe, Colombia, 
and even America, where Santacru: already had front compa- 
nies such as Liberty Shipment, an export concern based in Bal- 
timore. Once in place, this economy could cleanse not iinly the 
$36 million from Panama but new cartel revenue. 

Although Jurado was very careful to cover the money's tracks, 
he was decidedly less cautious about covering his own. His op- 
eration was intercepted between Phases 3 and 4, according to 
DEA intelligence analyst Kenneth Robinson — just before he 
was able to transfer the ftmds into European front companies. 
Two factors led to his diiwnfall: In the aftermath of a bank 
failure in Monaco, investigators discovered several suspicious 
accounts linked to Jurado. At roughly the same time, inces- 
sant noise from a money-counting machine in Jurado's house 
prompted a neighbor to alert the Luxembourg police. Empow- 
ered by a new' law making money laundering illegal, the police 
initiated a wiretap in April 1990. Jurado and Garcia were ar- 
rested in Luxembourg two months later. The DEA, which hac 
been investigating Santacruz's operation for more than a 
decade, assistet.1 Luxembourg pri)secutors by demonstrating 
that the iimney the two were accused of laundering originated 
from drug sales in the U.S. Jurado was left to defend him.self, 
while Garcfa received legal assistance from a former Justice 
Department drug-enforcement attorney, Michael Abhell, who 
later faced money-laundering charges of his own arising from 
his legal work for Santacru:. Jurado and Garcia were convict- 
ed by a Luxembourg court in 1992. U.S. officials filed an ex- 
tradition reciuest, and in May 1994 the two men were met at 
New York's Kennedy Airport by federal marshals and chargec 
with money laundering and drug trafficking. 


I O N 

Evidence like this document is a hard harrier to overcome. But 
hrouj^'ht hefore American aLithorities, Jurado mounted what 
could he called the Casablanca defense, saying that he was 
"shocked, shocked" that the cash he was laundering was San- 
tacruz's drug money. Instead, he claimed he had helieved the 
money to he flight capital of rich Colomhians who were using 
his system to evade Colombian taxes and currency export con- 
trols (which would violate Colombian, hut not American, 
law). Jurado's rather strange odyssey suggests the remote possi- 
bility that he might have been, at least initially, duped by the 
cartel. Nowhere in this chart or his memo does Jurado refer to 
Santacruz or drugs. And his personal history is atypical of a 
Cali fixer. Jurado left Colombia in the early '80s, telling friends 
and associates that he had been threatened by the Cali cartel 
for refusing them access to the stock exchaiige. Jurado even 
approached the DEA and offered to act as an informant; the 
DEA turned him dowi"i. In the mid-'80s, he worked as a re- 
searcher on drug policy for then Harvard Professor Mark 
Kleiman, producing a well-documented portrait of the drug 
market in Lawrence, Massachusetts, for just $8 an hour. 
Kleiman was prepared to testify to Jurado's "visceral hatred" for 
the cartel but does add a caveat: "He had a great capacity of 
believing what he wanted to believe. Magical realism, after all, 
doesn't just come out of nowhere in Colombia." Jurado may 
have been a patsy, but it is far more likely that he maintained 
his innocence in order to avoid retribution from Santacruz, 
who, although protected from extradition by Colombian law, 
certainly did not want his dirty laundry aired in American 
courts. On April 11, 1996, one month after Santacruz was 
gunned down by Medellin police following his escape from 
prison, Jurado and Garcia each pled guilty to a single count ot 
money laundering in a Brooklyn federal court. Jurado was sen- 
tenced to seven and a half years, Garcia to ten. They will be 
deported to uncertain futures in Colombia immediately upon 
their release, which for Jurado may come as early as this year. 

Had it passed through all five phases, the money would have 
been "sanctified" by having the European front companies in- 
vest the cash in any one of Santacruz's many "legitimate" 
businesses back in Colombia, including restaurants, construc- 
tion companies, pharmaceutical enterprises, and real estate 
hi)ldings. Now, however, the money will take a quite different 
route. In October 1996, the U.S. Atromey issued an asset-for- 
feiture request to the nine countries with banks still holding 
monies linked to Jurado's .scheme. Santacruz's surviving rela- 
tives and mistresses had already been notified of the impend- 
ing seizures; not surprisingly, they declined to challenge the 
proceeding. Thus, the money now goes through another cycle 
in the washing machine: having started as tens and twenties 
on the streets of America, and traveled through many oi the 
world's leading banks, it is now destined to be churned back 
into the Justice Department's drug war. For once, the United 
States, which spent about $1.5 million on the investigation, 
stands to make a tidy pn)fit from the Cali cartel. 





A portrait of one of the 
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A psychiatric handbook lists a madness for everyone 

B}' L. J. Davis 

Discussed in this essay: 

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. 

American Psychiatric Association. 886 pages. $59.96 cloth; $45 paper. 


as there ever been a 
ask more futile than the at- 
empt to encompass, in the 
/ork of a single lifetime, let 
lone in a single work, the 
/hole of human experience? 
'or roughly five thousand 
ears, poets, playwrights, 
hilosophers, and cranks have 
icinerated untold quantities 
f olive oil, beeswax, and fos- 
il fuel in pursuit of this mad- 
eningly elusive goal; all have 
liled, sometimes heroically. 
Jot even Shakespeare could 
lanage it; closer to our own 
imes, Dickens, a sentimen- 
il Englishman, the son of a 
lerk, perhaps came closest, 
lough he believed in spon- ,. ^ 

meous human combustion 
nd managed to miss the en- 
rety of the twentieth century. De- 
5ite the best efforts of minds great, 
nail, and sometimes insane, the rid- 

. J. Davis is a contributing editcjr of Har- 
5r's Magazine. His last piece, "The Prob- 
m with Banks? Bankers," appeared in the 
me 1991 issue. 


die of the human condition has re- 
mained utterly impervious to solution. 
Until now. According to the Diagnos- 
tic and Statistical Manual ofMentcd Dis- 
orders, Fourth Edition (popularly known 
as the DSM-/V), human life is a form 
of mental illness. 

rublished by the American Psychi- 

atric Association in 1994, the 
DSM'IV is some 886 pages 
long and weighs (in paper- 
back) slightly less than three 
pounds; if worn over the 
heart in battle, it would prob- 
ably stop a .50-caliber ma- 
chine-gun bullet at 1,700 
yards. Nearly a decade in the 
making, it is the product of 
work groups, task forces, ad- 
visers, and review commit- 
tees (the acknowledgment of 
whom requires twenty-two 
pages) representing the 
flower of the profession and 
the distillation of its thought. 
The DSM'IV has no begin- 
ning, no middle, and no end; 
like a cookbook (which the 
preface is at pains to say it is 
not), the manual is organized 
by categories, not chapters. But it does 
have a pkit (everyone is either nuts or 
going there), a central and unifying 
thesis (everyone is treatable), and it 
tells its stark tale with implacable sim- 
plicity. Here, on a staggering scale, are 
gathered together all the known men- 
tal disturbances of humankind, the ill- 

ustration hy Russell O. Jones 


Idenlities \ 
f; False 
Pi Memories 



/n this vivid and scatliiiig analysis, 

Nicholas Spanos — one of the worlds most 

lonowncd psychologists — argues that 

"niiiltiple personality" is purely 

a cultural construct — not a lesitiinate 

psychiatric disorder. Forcefully wrillen. 

bolstered by rigorous rescarcli and 

wide-ranging scholarship, this is a brilliant, 

unapologetic stance on one of the most 
controversial issues in mental health today. 


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ncsscs ot mind and spirit that cry out 
ti)r the therapeutic tiuich ot — are yoii 
ready tor thi.s.' — the \'ery people who 
wrote the hook. 

First, and |iriinarily, tlie DSM-IV us 
a hook ot doyina, thotif^h as theokigy 
it i,s pretty pedestriaii stLif^, rather alonj^ 
the lines ot the owner's manual in an 
aiironiohile f:;love compartment. Like 
all theories-ot-everythinf:!, trom the 
Protocols of the Elders of Zkm to the 
ct)llected lyrics of Mr. Snoop Doggy 
Dogg, the language is simultaneously 
precise and vague. The precision, 
which arrives in cool, clinical, and oc- 
casionally impenetrahle language, pro- 
vides the undertaking with an aura of 
scientific ohjectivity, arid the vague- 
ness is necessary hecause precision can 
he limiting in both a semantic and a fi- 
nancial sense. Secondly, the DSM-/V 
is a catalogue. The merchandise con- 
sists of the psychiatric disorders de- 
scribed therein, the customers are the 
therapists, and this may be the only 
catalogue in the world that actually 
makes its customers mtmey: each dis- 
order, no matter how trivial, is ac- 
companied by a billing code, enabling 
the therapist to till out the relevant 
insurance torm and receive an agreed- 
upon reu ar^l. The billing code for En- 
copresis ("repeated passage of feces in- 
to inappropriate places"), for instance, 
is 307.7- Last, the manual bears an as- 
toundiiig resemblance to a militia's 
Web page, insofar as it constitutes an 
alternative reality uiuler siege. The 
enemy, of course, is hard science and 
her white-coated thugs, who have long 
mamtained that many psychiatric dis- 
orders do not exist arid that t)thers are 
physical diseases with mental conse- 
quences. Worse, things have been go- 
ing hard science's way in recent years, 
which threatens no small number of 
sott-science incomes. The DSM-/V, 
then, may be read as a coLinterattack 
along the lines oi a fertilizer 



erhaps .some examples are in order. 
According to the DSM-IV, something 
called frotteurism (302.89) is the ir- 
resistible desu'e to sexually ttnich arid 
rub against one's fellow passengers on 
mass transit. Something called fugue 
(300.13) consists ot tra\'el in foreign 
lands, often under an assumed identi- 
ty. In reality, it may very well be that 

the frotteurist is a helpless victim in ,ie 
clutches ot his obsession, but it's eqijl- 
ly possible that he's simply a bo'd 
creep looking tor a cheap thrill. Iir- 
haps the fuguist is in psychologtil 
flight from a meiiuiry that cannot:ie 
borne and will utterly tail to 
the news that he is not the Regen.jt 
Pomerania traveling incognitoin 
Prin-ence, but maybe he's just ha\j^ 
his spot of fun. The DSM-/V ija 
stranger to such ambiguities. Tie 
DSM-JV says that the frotteurist , d 
the fuguist, despite all conceivablejt- 
guments to the contrary, have lost tljk 
marbles, period and end of discussij . 

Not content with the merely we| , 
the DSM-IV also atteinpts to cL;i 
dominitin over the mundane. Curri t 
among the maiiy symptoms of the i- 
ranged mind are bad writing (31" » 
aixl its associated symptom, poor hai - 
writing); coffee drinking, includ ; 
coffee nerves (305.90), bad cot 
nerves (292.89), inability to sleep!;' 
ter drinking too much coffee (292.S), 
and something that probably has soi ;- 
thing to do with ctiffee, though (;e 
therapist can't put his finger luit 
(292.9); shyness (299.80, also knoia 
as Asperger's Disorder); sleepwalkig 
(307.46); jet lag (307.45); snobb;y 
(301.7, a subset of Antisocial Persci.- 
ality Disc^irder); and insomnia (307.4(1; 
to say nothing of tobacco smokii'j, 
which includes both getting hot)^ 
(305.10) and going cold turky 
(292.0). You were out ot your mid 
the last time you had a nightmjie 
(307.47). ClumsitTess is nc:iw a menil 
illness (315.4). So is playing vic'D 
games (Malingeriiig, V65.2). So is J- 
ing just about anything "vigorousli" 
So, under certain circumstances,? 
tailing asleep at night. 

The foregoing list is neither ran^lii 
nor trivial, nor does it represent ts 
.sort ot edit(.)rial oversight that occ s 
when, say, an otherwise reputable - 
ology text contains the claim that goS 
breathe thriiugh their ears. We -Ji 
here confronted with a wtuldviiv 
where everything is a symptom a 3 
the predtiminant color is a shade f 
therapeutic gray. This has the adv; ' 
tage of making the therapist's job K i 
remarkably simple and remarkably - 
crative. Once the universe is popul - 
ed with enough coffee-guzzling, ci}> 
rette-putting, vigorous human beiris 

10 are crazy precisely because they 
loke, drink coffee, and move about 
( an active and purposeful manner, 
: e psychoanalyst is placed in the po- 
: ion of the lucky fellow taken to the 
I ountaintop and shown powers and 
I )minions. Here, hard science cannot 
tack with its niggling discoveries 
out bad brain chemicals and their et- 
;ts on people who believe that gun- 
ay is a perfectly reasonable response 
disapproval, humor, or minor traf- 
■ accidents. Instead, the pages of the 
SM'IV are replete with mental ill- 
'sses that have been hitherto re- 
rded as perfectly normal behavior, 
le therapist is invited not merely to 
ay God but to play lawyer — to some 
inds, a superior calling — and to in- 
ilge in a favorite diversion of the 
American legal profession 
known as "recruiting a fee." 


y confining themselves to a sin- 
i interpretation of the human dilem- 
a — madness — the DSM-IV's authors 
live joined the monkeys-and-type- 
iters school of foul-weather marks- 
anship: give a hunter an infinite 
mount of ammunition, an infinite 
aount of time, a distant target 
rouded in fog, and the hunter will 
metimes hit the target and some- 
nes will hit something else: 

The essential feature of Shared Psy- 
chotic Disorder (Folic a Deux) is a delu- 
sion that develops in an individual who 
is involved in a close relationship with 
another person (sometimes termed the 
"inducer" or "the primary case") who 
already has a Psychotic Disorder with 
prominent delusions (Criterion A). The 
individual comes to share the delusion- 
al beliefs of the primary case in whole or 
in part (Criterion B). The delusion is not 
better accounted for by another Psy- 
chotic Disorder (e.g.. Schizophrenia) or 
a Mood Disorder With Psychotic Fea- 
tures and is not due to the direct phys- 
iological effects of a substance (e.g., am- 
phetamine) or a general medical 
condition (e.g., brain tumor) (Criterion 
C) — The content of the shared delu- 
sional beliefs . . . can include relatively 
bizarre delusions (e.g., that radiation is 
being transmitted into an apartment 
from a hostile foreign power, causing 
indigestion and diarrhea), mood-con- 
gruent delusions (e.g., that the primary 
case will soon receive a film contract 
for $2 millit)n . . .), or the nonbizarre 














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delusions that are characteristic of Delu- 
sional Disorder (e.g., the FBI is tapping 
the family telephone and trailing fami- 
ly members when they go out). Usual- 
ly the primary case in Shared Psychot- 
ic Disorder is dominant. . . . 

Jargon, reJtindaiicy, and tur).;iJity 
aside, what v\e hax'e here is a fairly ac- 
curate description of Newt Gingrich's 
House ot Representatives. Tlie hilling 
code is 297.3. 

This same uncanny, if accidental, 
ahility to describe the nation's movers 
and shakers crops up again and again 
in the DSM-JV. Between them. Bill 
and Hillary Clinton meet all the di- 
agnostic criteria for Narcissistic Per- 
sonality Disorder.' And it is also clear 
that Bipolar Disorders I (296.01, 
296.41, 296.42, 296.43, 296.44, 
296.45, 296.46, 296.40) and II 
(296.89) — which include Manic 
Episode (296.00), Mixed Episode 
(296.61, 296.62, 296.63, 296.64, 
296.65, 296.66, 296.60), and Hypo- 
manic Episode (296.40) — may he 
C(.nnhined with Antisocial Personali- 
ty Disorder (301.7) to account for an 
inflated sense of personal brilliance, a 
willingness to play fast and loose with 
other people's mciney, an urge to in- 
struct the nation, and an inability to 
foresee the consequences of one's ac- 
tions. Closely associated maladies are, 
apparently, plagiarism and the wear- 
ing of inappropriate garb. By this de- 
finition, most of Wall Street is com- 
pletely crackers. 

Welcome to the broad pathologi- 
cal world of the ingenious, versatile 
Bipolars and their catchall allies, the 
Antisocial Personalities. In the ver- 
nacular, the Bipolars et al. come under 
the heading of gotcha! — the ever-pop- 
ular rhetorical device of the ideologue 
or the man in the checkered suit with 
a briefcase full of shares in a phlogis- 
ton mine. For example, a telltale symp- 
tom of Antisocial Personality Disorder 

' "I) has a grcmdiiisc sense of self-impur- 
lancc ^ . . , 2) IS prc(xaipied with fantasies of 
unlimited success . . . ; ^) believes that he or 
she is 'special' . . . ; 4) requires excessive ad- 
nxiration- 5) has a sense of entitlement . . ; 
6) is interperscmally exploitative . . . ; 7) 
lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize ur 
identify with the feelings and needs of oth- 
ers; 8) is often envious of others or believes 
that others are envious of him . . . ; 9) shoivs 
arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes." 

is the tendency of the victim to steal 
things. The layman, the hard scien- 
tist, and the policeman might take is- 
sue with the diagnosis, but vigorous 
dissent (and what, pray tell, is the de- 
finition of "vigorous"?) is a sure sign 
that the dissenter suffers from a Bipo- 
lar disorder and is therefore nuts. In 
other words, not only is anyone who 
pursues a goal with dedication, verve, 
and discipline a prime candidate for 
the therapist's couch but so is the psy- 
chiatrist who rises at a hospital staff 
meeting to protest the fact that her 
colleagues are ripping off everybody 
in sight with bogus diagnoses. One be- 
gins to understand what exceedingly 
handy tools these definitions be. 

The Bipolars wear many hats and 
perform many useful functions, but, 
as the DSM-/V admits in a rare mo- 
ment of candor, these disorders may 
not even exist. The numeral 6 at the 
end of the Bipolar billing codes (them- 
selves such a source of rich cross-di- 
agnostic possibilities that an entire 
subsection is devoted to them) indi- 
cates that the symptoms are in full re- 
mission, which means that the patient 
does not have them, may never have 
had them, and may never develop 
them. No matter — the ther- 
apist still gets paid. 


.t was not ever thus. As recently as 
1840, the U.S. census recognized pre- 
cisely one form of madness, idiocy/in- 
sanity, omitting a definition because, 
presumably, everyone knew what it 
was. (In the 1840s, however, south- 
ern alienists anticipated the DSM'/V 
by discoveriiig a malady called 
Drapetomania — the inexplicable, mad 
longing of a slave for freedom.) The 
1880 census obligingly followed the 
march of science by listing no fewer 
thaii seven categories of dementia: ma- 
nia, melancholia, monomania, pare- 
sis, dementia (again), dipsomania, and 
epilepsy. (This would not be the last 
time that a bald-facedly physical af- 
fliction crept into the psychological 
canon; among the maladies described 
in the DSM-/V is snoring, 780.59.) 
Even so, it cantiot be said that the pro- 
fession's urge to colonize the human 
mind proceeded at a blinding pace. 
The term "mental illness" did not en- 
ter the vocabulary for another forty 
years. Many decades would pass, and 

much caution would be thrown to iie 
winds, before things began to get relliy 
out of hand. ! 

Following World War II, the L3. 
Army and the Veterans Adminis i- 
tion revisited the timeless discovry 
that the experience of battle did ii- 
pleasant things to the minds of its kit 
less participants. As a result, the nii- 
ber of known mental disturbances g]tt 
to a still-reasotiable twenty-six. le 
DSM-i appeared in 1952; it was iie 
first professional manual thatttt- 
tempted to describe, in a single con^ 
volume, the disorders a clinician mi|it 
encounter in the course of daily pii:- 
tice. The DSM-l also described |ie 
disorders as actual, discernible re:- 
tions to something — an event, a st- 
ation, a biological condition. But wlim 
the DSM-H was published in 19(3, 
the word "reaction" had vanished, ri/- 
er to reappear. Unobserved by the 1 
er world, a revolution had taken pi 
By severing cause from effect, the p'f- 
chiatric profession had privatized le 
entire field of mental illness, remo { 
it from the marketplace of ideas, abjl- 
doned the rigorous proofs of the ji' 
entific method, and adopted circiSr 
thinking as its central disciplifi. 
Henceforward, in the absence of c; .« 
and effect, a mental illness woulqie 
anything the psychiatric profess;n 
chose to call a mental illness. Incrts- 
ingly, and with gathering speed, Anit- 
ican psychiatry came to resembl a 
man with a hammer. 

A defining moment, both tor ,ie 
profession and for the country, arri td 
with the publication in 1974 of ne 
revised edition of the DSM-I/, wHJh 
abolished homosexuality as a meial 
illness. This was heartening news f< a 
great many people, but they wert.'t 
quite off the hook. When the DSMjII 
was published in 1980, the world is 
informed that believing one's hoi3- 
sexuality to be a mental illness is 
now a mental illness (Ego-dystOik 
Homosexuality, 302), regardless, >> 
patently, of where that belief mi)it 
have originated. 

For years, countless numbers of cn- 
er people continued to be told tar 
they suffered from a crippling disorer 
called dementia praecox, that wonTi 
experienced penis envy, and that sc z- 
ophrenia was caused by bad parents iJy 
the time the DSM-JV rolled aroundiJi 


ese former truths were inoperative, 
d luck indeed to the thousands who 
d been convinced, in defiance of 
leir senses, that they were either 
pelessly off their chumps, rotten hu- 
m beings, or both. The fact that so 
my people had been treated, pun- 
led, or stigmatized for conditions 
d circumstances that did not exist 
led to suggest to the public at large 
at modern psychotherapy had no 
:a what mental illness was. Nor did 
e tumbrels roll when the psychiatric 
Session went on to discover (and 
ike a bundle from) two entirely new 
tion-threatening epidemics for 
lich no empirical proof exists: chron- 
iepression (based on the readily ob- 
vable fact that a whole lot of peo- 
!, including people with serious or 
tentially fatal diseases, don't feel so 
t about their lives) and suppressed 
!;mory. The profession had discov- 
■d a truth as old as the Republic: no 
one ever went broke by turn- 
ing a mote into a beam. 

-t's one thing for the psychological 
ofession to defend itself against the 
slaught of physical medicine and 
ite another for it to go on the attack, 
a widespread and disturbing tit for 
, the DSM-IV displays a tendency to 
kim dominion over afflictions that 
If clearly best handled by the harder 
'entists. Leaving aside such suspect 
tries as psychotic disorder caused by 
hysical illness (293.82) and Vagin- 
jius (306.51), a look at the section 
titled 'Tain Disorder" is instructive, 
in Disorder comes in two billable 
ms: Pain Disorder Associated with 
/chological Factors (307.80) and 
in Disorder with Both Psychological 
ptors and a General Medical Con- 
ion (307.89). Its variant form — Pain 
[sorder Associated with a General 
^dical Condition — seems to cede 
:)und to the physicians, but subse- 
ent text plainly reveals this to be a 
ire and an illusion: 

Pain may lead to inactivity and social 
isolation, which in turn can lead to ad- 
ditional psychological problems (e.g., 
depression) and a reduction in physical 
endurance that results in fatigue and 
idditional pa'in. 

3n the small chance that this bit of 
jerdemain does not suffice, the text 
-s on to hint less subtly: 

The associated mental disorders may 
precede the Pain Disorder (and possibly 
predispose the individual to it), co-oc- 
cur witli it, or result from it. 

If your knee hurts, in other words, 
you have bats in your belfry. 

Even when a problem has admit- 
tedly physical origins, the DSM-/V 
manages to argue that it, too, is treat- 
able by the adepts of the psychological 
craft. With an audacity that would be 
shameless in another context, the book 
devotes an entire section to the psy- 
chological maladies caused by drugs 
prescribed to alleviate other, perhaps 
imaginary, psychological maladies. 
This is a little bit like teceiving a bill 
from a virus. Elsewhere, the manual's 
logic shows a similar taste for the ab- 
surd, devoting almost a hundred pages 
to the discovery that chronic intoxi- 
cation (a matter ot keen interest to 
the DSM-IV) results from the ingestion 
of intoxicating substances (a matter 
of no visible interest to the DSM-IV) 
and often results in (but is not caused 
by) both crime and poverty. The poor, 
by the way, frequently suffer from im- 
poverished vocabularies (Expressive 
Language Disorder, 315.31). 

Nowhere is this strange conflation 
of cause and effect on more prominent 
display than in the passage entitled 
Reactive Attachment Disorder in In- 
fancy or Early Childhood (313.89). 
"The child," we are informed, 

shows a pattern of excessively inhibited, 
hypervigilant, or highly ambivalent re- 
sponses (e.g., frozen watchfulness, re- 
sistance to comfort, or a mixture of ap- 
proach and avoidance). ... By 
definition, the condition is associated 
with grossly pathological care that mav 
take the form of persistent disregard cf 
the child's basic emotional needs for 
comfort, stimulation, and affection. . . . 

Thirty-five thousand yeats of hu- 
man history says that the kid is react- 
ing logically to an intolerable situa- 
tion. The DSM-IV says that the kid, 
like the drunk and the poor person, is 
not playing with a full deck. Neither is 
any other kid who hits the hormonal 
wall in the mid-teens, a condition well 
known to generations of parents Vi'hose 
darkest suspicions are confirmed by 
the DSM-IV's version of the scientif- 
ic method. Under the heading of "Dis- 
orders Usually First Diagnosed in In- 
fancy, Childhood, or Adolescence," 

the DSM-IV lists Attention-Deficit/ 
Hyperactivity Disorder (314.00, 
314.01, and 314.9), Conduct Disor- 
der (312.8), Oppositional Defiant Dis- 
order (313.81), and Disruptive Be- 
havior Disorder Not Otherwise 
Specified (312.9). A close reading of 
the text reveals that the illnesses in 
question consist of failure to listen 
when spoken to, talking hack, annoy- 
ing other people, claiming that some- 
body else did it, and (among a lot of 
other stuff familiar to parents) failure 
to clean up one's room. According to 

the DSM-IV, adolescence is a 

mental disorder. 


-t this point m the proceedings 
it is time for the standard author's dis- 
claimer. First, a number, perhaps even 
a large number, of practicing thera- 
pists are sensible, upstanding citizens 
who never cheat on their expense ac- 
counts and who know perfectly well 
that poor people aren't crazy. The 
problem is finding out who these ther- 
apists are. The DSM-IV lists as con- 
tributors many of the most stellar names 
in the profession, and the daunting 
task of weeding out misguided, delud- 
ed, corrupt, or stupid therapists doesn't 
even begin to address the legions of 
social workers, lawyers, nurses, admin- 
istrators, and jumped-up file clerks who 
use the DSM-IV as a kind of Cliffs 
Notes while filling out paperwork and 
blackening countless reputations with 
descriptions of illnesses that do not 

Next, and obviously, there actually 
is such a thing as mental illness. Any 
form of normal human thought or be- 
havior carried to a grotesque extteme 
and persisting despite all appeals to 
reason is, by definition, a mental ill- 
ness. The DSM-IV, however, appears 
to be unaware of this. The manual's 
lengthy discussion of schizophrenia 
(295.30, 295.10, 295.20, 295.90, and 
295.60), surely one of the most studied 
pathologies ever to afflict the mind of 
man, boils down to this: a schizo- 
phrenic is a person who thinks very 
odd thoughts, behaves weirdly, and 
suffers from bizarre delusions, which 
suggests that the authors of the DSM- 
IV either don't know what schizo- 
phrenia is or suffer from poor writing 
skills (315.2). Hard science has de- 
veloped coro,pelling evidence that 


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.schi2i)phrenia, like appendiciris, is pt 
SDmething that its victims canjc 
talked (.)ut oi, hut one hegins tii sLis|ct 
that the entire strangely imprecise .| 
tion has heen ccimposed with the 
di)m of the serpent: if the DS 
were to admit that schizophrenia 
all prohahility a physical illness \Hi|h 
profound mental consecjuences, tffr 
the game would no U)nger he W(»i 
the candle. . 

Nowhere in the DSM-N is a staipi 
sanity defined or described, and a tjt- 
apist is therefore given no guidiice 
concerning therapy's goal, hi le 
DSM'/V's own tertns, sanity appirs 
to he the absence of everything uija 
pages. And for all their effort to swep 
every known disturbance of mankjd 
under psychology's jurisdictional jig, 
the book's authors seem to have ob- 
looked a few real moneymakeri^iA 
number of people believe, for exai 
that they have been abducted b 
tergalactic superbeings and subje 
to fiendish experiments, but becJ|e 
the DSM-/V never describes this tf 
dition, there is nothing at all wi.if 
with such people. A persoti who snffis 
or travels incognito is ready forle 
booby hatch, but a person who clJif 
to have been kidnapped by a flljn 
saucer is perfectly sane. 

Well, almost. Perhaps he is "ag it 
ed," in which case it would be rean 
able to treat him tor "agitation" ( it 
bill his insurance company accord ,g 
ly). Is he depressed about the incid it 
If so, perhaps he has gone Bipolar, .m. 
the saucer story could, of courseibi 
read as a schizophrenic delusion, ht 
possibilities are various. ' 

This, in the end, is the beaut o 
the DSM'IV. Hangnails seem to 1 vt 
avoided the amoeba's kiss, and h^ 
common cold is momentarily safe n 
less it is accompanied by pain),|ii 
precious little else is. As psychiatr"e 
tines its definitions with an eye to\ .n 
profit, piling Pelion on Ossa li : 
playwright dressing a set, the huai 
mind becoines increasingly less cti 
prehensible, not more. If every as ;ct 
of human life (excepting, of coije 
the practice of psychiatry) can be ^Gi 
as pathology, then everything huiiaR- 
beings thought they knew, believei oi 
had deduced about their world is (;!!: 
signed to the dustbin of history 
line on an insurance form. 




By Steven Polansky 


o you 



vhat scares me?" she 
aid. We were in my of- 
ice, a small space, the 
vails hung with masks of 
;arved wood, leather, 
nd papier-mache. The 
'oor was closed. 

"What scares you?" I 

"When one character 
peaks with another 
haracter's voice." 

"They do that in cere- 
1 ads." 

"No," she said. "They 

lo it to deceive them. To 

rap them. In the movie. 

""o kill them. All the 

fucking devils 


do it." 

want to say now that she was 
leautiful, extraordinarily so, from al- 
most every angle. At first — I was 
orty, she was twenty — 1 found her 
ppearance pitiable and painful. Her 
ace was asymmetrical: the right 
ide — the jaw, mouth, corner of the 
ye, nostril, brow — misshapen. 

t£ven Polansky is a writer living in Oronn , 

skewed, tho issue of a pubescent neu- 
rological miscue and a string of cruel- 
ly ineffectual surgeries. The left side 
of her face was sadly perfect, as was 
the rest of her. As 1 got clo.ser, I sav^ 
the golden hair on the hack of her 
neck. I could list her elegances; her 
white shoulders; the fragile V made 
by the bones beneath her neck; her 
sheer, clean back; her arms, her feath- 
ery wrists; her ankles. I never saw her 
undressed. I never touched her. 

Were she to read it, she would 

chafe, or laugh, at my de- 
scription. She would say, 
rightly, it is idealized, sen- 
timental, self-serving. 1 
don't know that there 
was anything really ele- 
gant about her. Maybe, 
when you spent time 
with her, she was, except- 
ing the disfigurement, an 
ordinarily pretty young 
woman, with the pre- 
dictable, seductive mix of 
fine and coarse, with 
every sign that she would 
become, again putting 
aside the disfigurement, a 
passably attractive mid- 
dle-aged woman, whose 
calves were a bit thick, 
whose hands a trace rough and utile. 

She used too much makeup, and a 
vulgar nail polish. In dress and de- 
portment she was a studied disso- 
nance, declining to the tawdry in a 
way hard to reconcile with her mani- 
fest graces. She had a gecko — curleei 
upon itself, small and green, with 
one red eye — tattooed on 

I her shoulder, 

t it serves me now to see her as 
sultry and provocative, a young 

lustration hy Lisa Zador 


wciman wim, at ci'st of (.inisiiloralilc 
sufterin^j; ami liti-ral loss of face, had 
at least tDinc away wirh a hcii^ht- 
encd, if not compc-nsatoiy, sense ot 
her own hoiiy— its allures, its ca- 
dences, the w;\\ II chatf^ed the space 

looked at me. 1 had spoken, helit- 
tlin^ly, of another stuiient. I had 
stooped, pandered, hreached a iiuni- 
inal (.lecoruin. While it i.loiihtless 
pleasei.1 this stiitlent with the iincx- 
ce|Mionally jiretty face, it also less- 





around it — this was not at all Imw 1 
first saw her. 

I was in the college coffee shop 
having lunch with one ot niy stu- 
dents. 1 don't remetiiher this one's 
name, or what we talked ahout. I re- 
iiieniher little ahoul her cNcepl that 
she was prelly and had reni.lered a 
distressinfi;ly leaden Siiieraklina in 
the college's statin;,' ot C}okK>ni's 
ScnYint ()/ l\vo MasicTS, tiiy transla- 
tion sutleriiif.; its tirst, and last, 

She walked hy. vShe was alone. 
She stood at the counter tti order 
her lunch. Although she was in her 
final year, I had not seen her hett>re. 
She moved as if she were pitiched, 
strapped hy shame. She kept her 
head lilted, so that her hair ob- 
scured the rif,'ht, unseemly side of 
her face. \'i-l she was dressed iti a 
way talculaled to draw attention — 
tit;ht jeans, heels, a uian's white, 
sleeveless undershirt. There, con- 
spicuously, w'viv her smooth arms, 
lu-r shouldirs, her breasts, the nape 
of lur neik, her flawless back. This 
now- see -me -now -don't rhel oru 
madi' no sense to me then. It was, 1 
would leaiii beiaiise she would 
teach me the way she bra:ened it 
out and, al ihe same tune, a subuus- 
sion lo the nisinul lor sell abase 
menl, which in her was punishiiif^ 
and persisUMil . 

"Bui Ish 1 1 ," she wouKl say. " I 
taught you nolhinf^. 1 tauj^bi \oii 

1 said this aloud to Smeialdina 
tacint^ me across the table: "Dear 
Ciod. Don't lei thai woman lake my 

iV-lore she responded, Smeialdina 

6S I I.AUriK'S MM ■,,\/INI- / 1-1 HKl i.AKV I>W7 

>:i\>.\\ me in her eyes. Thai didn't 
matter. At forty, I was already be- 
coming invisible to the under^'radu- 
ate female. 

"What woman.'" Smeraldina said. 

"At the counter." 

"Oh," she said. "Yeah. 1 know 
her." I waited. "I meari, 1 know abt)ut 

"I'm sure she's lovely," 1 said, 
backsteppin^ before the next betray- 
al. "I just don't ha\e it in me to cope 
with that." 

"That face." 

"That pain," 1 said. 

"She's not lovely," Smer- 
ildina said. "By the way." 


I ill 


. ou re wrofi),', site sau 
no more than 1 would have 
I'm less." 

She closed her eyes. She threw 
her head back, exposing the pleat of 
scar tissue under her jaw. "Not for 
me," I said. We were in my office. It 
was late afternoon. My wife was ill. 1 
should have been home. 

She lauj.;hed at me, a derisive 
snort. She was in many ways my bet- 
ter we both knew it. Still, when 
she lau(:,'hed, she coNeied her moulh 
with her hand. "What could you 
possibly know.'" she said. 

"1 kintw what 1 see." She licked 
lui thumb, then rubbed al a s|ioi of 
ink ^^^ hei indes fintjer. Wilhout 
look 111(4 ,n me, she said, "My mother 
told me 1 was beautiful. Always. 

I low beaut iful 1 would 

"\\n\ are beaiil iful." 

"Oh yeah." 

"1 find you beaut iliil.' 

I meant what 1 said 


She took it 

as flattery, palaver. She likedifc, 
and it made her anf,'ry. She pul|| 
her hair back and showed me 

"Like this.'" 
"Yes," 1 said. 

"And you're a liar.'il 
She flared into an ^ 
Ktessive smile t l,*t 
showed her teeth. IJik 
mediately, she regret )( 
having done it and 1 
ered her head. 

"I was beaut if u 
should have been be| 
We sat without s|-)eaking, then 
stood up, as if she were preparin^ji 

"1 have something for you," I s:^ 
I had not thought about this betoiij 
said it. 1 went to the wall of bo(J3 
behind her. "Something 1 want 4| 
to read." 

"What is it.'" she said. She hp 
lescjiied a slump, knees buckliij}, 
shoulders sagging, head clroopiu}, 
"ik'cause I'm swamped." || 

1 had no book in mind. I was i 
provising. Oil a shelf above my h( 
1 saw Salinger's Nine Slnrics a 
grateful, reached for it. 1 handed 
the book. She looked at it, t 
handed it back. 

"I've read it." 

"(iood," 1 said. "Did you like it.' 

"I liked it." She smiled at r 
gently, but without covering 
mouth. "1 know what you're doing 




lat am I cfoing.' 


"You're trying to soften me 
'I'ou're trying \o melt 
gristly little bean with go 



wani her story — the episodes 
whic h I figure lo be the one ab( 
the c (impassioiiate, excusably S< 
congratulatory teacher who he 
the teetering student find her po 
her voice, her way. 1 supfiose 1 Wl 
her story to be prec isely the episoi 
in which I figure. I did find her, a 
1 did help lur, at a time when s 
was hull and angry, cynical a 
confused and listing to a stop. I tc 
an inlerest. I was frank, even play 
about her distress. 1 talked to \ 
aboiil her face. I was ne\er o\'c 
grave. Such frankness, such i^layf 
ness, was solacing and cost me 

lost nothing. I encouraged her to 
lik, and I Ustened. I had done as 
luch for other students in crises 
ominal and real, though I would 
ly now I never had another student 
■ ice her. 

1 did not save her. She would not 
(ave allowed herself to be saved by 
jte. When 1 let her go, when she 
! ft — I could not have held her — she 
I as more confident, straighter to the 
|:orld, more at peace with, more lu- 
d about, her sadness, her lot. I had 
j^asonable cause to think it was part- 
ly a result of her brush 
with. me. 


was anxious the first day of class, 
ways, even after fifteen years in the 
usiness. She was in the front row, 
) my left, next to the window. Of 
er face only the perfect side was 
•sible, but I knew it was she. When 
saw her sitting there, self-con- 
:ious, nervy, watching me sideways, 
felt a special anxiety, edged by 

iromise and reprieve. Since my ah- 
let prayer, 1 had held a hope that 
le would take my class, that I would 
ave the chance not only to cope 
ith but to help palliate her pain. 
1 began the term, as 1 did whatev- 
'" the advertised subject, with the 
uestion of voice. 1 explained that 1 
as set on helping all of them find 
n authentic voice with which to 
)eak and write, and, more impor- 
mtly, with which to think. 1 told 
lem that the moment of putting 
en to paper was too late to think 
oout the character of this voice, 
lat it was determined, for good or 
1, by the thousand daily choices 
tie made. This last idea, and the 
inguage in which I dressed it, was 
Dt mine. I had read it, posited just 
lat way, in an essay written by a 

jeautiful young poet whose work, 
id whose face on the dust jacket, 1 

"Consider," I said, "the choices 
3u make in the way you dress. Can 
e read the language — vocabulary, 

Uction — of the clothes you wear?" 
his embellishment was my own. It 

' idn't logically follow. It was gratu- 

' ous really; and the exercise it pref- 
:ed, cruel. I pointed to a young man 

^tting at the back of the room. He 
as collapsed in his chair, nearly re- 

cumbent, with his baseball cap drawn 
over his eyes. He was not asleep; at 
intervals he spat out the side of his 
mouth, into a paper cup he held in 
his hand, a wet stream of tobacco. 

"What is your name?" I asked him. 

Without altering his posture, he 
said, "Van." 

"Van," I said. "Would you mind 
standing up?" 

This was the pedagogy of co-opta- 

"No," he said. "I wouldn't mind." 
He stood up, after discharging an- 
other clot of chew. 

"All right," I said to the class, 
"here's Van." The rest turned in 
their chairs to look at him. She 
looked out the window. 

"Look at his clothes. Remember, 
I'm asking you not to judge but to 
read them. Is this okay with you. 

"Makes no difference," Van said. 

"Good," 1 said. "So. What is the 
idiom, the nature of the language 
they speak? Can someone character- 

ize It.' 

Several hands went up. 
"Yes?" I said. 

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"Rmish," ;i stiiJenr saw\. 

"Plain," a stiiJcnr saii.1. 


"Good," I saitl. 


"As in . . . :'" I said. 

"As in cool." 

"All ri^ht," I saii.1, "that's ^ood. 
You can sit down now, Van. Thank 

"No sweat," Van said. He slid 
hack into his chair. Still she not 
looked at him. 

"Stay with me," I said. "Based on 
Van's choice of clothes, hased on 
that idiom, that vocahulary, what in- 
ferences might you want to draw 
ahout his voice'" 

"Suhliterate, inarticulate, unre- 
generate, pithecanthropic, pencil- 
dicked, and dumhtuck," she said lat- 
er, "is what I would have said, if 
you'd called on me." 

"I'm glad I didn't," I said. Rut I 
had called on her, when we had fin- 
ished with Van: "By the window. 
Miss, would you mind standing up?" 

1 told myself that hy choosing her 
to participate in this puhlic exercise 
I was asserting I could see no reason 
to except her. There must have heen 
kindness iii this. She did not move, 
and the class was c]uiet. She shifted 
in her seat and looked me flat in the 
eye. She smiled, as if to say, "Yoli 
think this is cruel." 

Theii she stood up. 

I had made a mistake, hut it was 
too late to amend it. 

She turned around and looked at 
the class. Van sat up straight. No 
one else moved. 

She wore a white hustier with fili- 
grees of cheap lace, a hiack Lycra 
miniskirt, hIack spandex leggings, 
and hlack leather ankle hoots with 
pointed toes. In one ear she had 
three earrings; on her wrists, a mass 
of jangly silver hracelets. She did not 
always dress this way. Often, when 
she came to my office, she wore a 
simple fUiral sunelress or a man's 
broadcloth shirt. 

"All right," I said. "Here's a differ- 
ent idiom. What inferences do you 
draw ahout . . . I'm sorry. What 
is your name?" 

She put her hands oti her hips and 
assumed a posture of defiance. She 
elid not respond. For a moment 1 

worried she might also he deaf. 

"Lindy," she saitl, without taking 
her eyes off the class. Her name was 
not Lindy, it turnei.1 out, hut Mar- 

"Are you okay with this, Lindy." 

She did not look at me. 

"Co on," she said. "Do it." 

"Okay," I said. "St), now, as you 
read the language of Lindy's clothes, 
what are you led ro think ahout her 

Ni) one said anything. She re- 
mained standing. I waited a full 
minute. Nii one said a word. 

"You understani.1 what I'm ask- 

A few oi the students nodded. She 
stared at the class, her hands on her 

After another minute 1 said, "This 
is difficult." 

She laughed, covering her mouth. 

No one spoke. 

"'Well, then," I said. "Perhaps we'd 
better move on. Thank you, Lindy." 

She did inn sit down. 

"Lindy," 1 said. "Thank you." 

She woukl not sit. For ten min- 
utes, until our time was up, she 
stood facing the class. I did what I 
could. I wrote on the board the as- 
signment for the next class. 1 asked 
for questions. None of it had an ef- 
fect. She did not sit down or take 
her eyes off me. None of the stu- 
dents spoke. None would look at 

When it was over, they left quick- 


We were alone. She sat down and 
began to gather her things. 

"I am sorry," I said. 

She looked at me. "You 
are now," she said. 


^T Ay office. Late afternoon. The 
curtain is drawn. There are masks on 
the wall. The Dottore, Pulcinella, 
Pantalone, Scapin. An expressive 
Arlecchino from the workshop of 
Donato Sartori, a black leather neu- 
tral mask worn by Jacc]ues Lecoq, 
and a framed engraving of a scene 
from the Balli di Sfessania. 

"It is hard to he smart," she said, 
"when you forever feel your face. 
When every second of every day you 
feel it stretched across your bones 
like this ugly rubber thing." 

"1 had terrible skin," 1 told 
"when I was in school." 

"This is an analogy?" 

"Of a sort," I said. 

"1 shcHild punch your lights out. 

"I'm sorry," 1 said. 

"Just so you know," she said. 

Her deformity was, for me, 
longer repellent. It was painful 
k)ok at because it spoke so clearl'^ 
her pain, but there was nothi 
freakish about her. 1 came to find 
face, its wryness, pleasing. 

"I used to be gifted," she said, 
you want to talk about that. I a 
smart. 1 was funny. I wrote poetn 
played the flute." 

"I would like to hear you play." 

"Oh sure. That would be ni 
Look at my mouth, for God's sake. 

1 asked about her family. She \ 
not unwilling to speak of the 
They lived outside Chicago. Her 
ther had been a minor player in 
Board of Trade. With the onset 
Margaret's disorder, he left his 
and the family. Margaret had : 
seen him agaiti. She spoke ab 
him with dispassion. 

"You're not angry," I said. 

"Well, I broke his heart." 

Margaret's mother, who drew 
financial support from her abst 
husband, made dresses for dolh 
thought of Dickens, hut Margart 
mother was ambitious and fu 
modern. She had converted t 
basement of their house into a sm 
factory, with two part-time heipe 
four industrial sewing machines 
snap machine, a cutting table, a 
steel shelves filled, floor to ceilii 
with bolts of fabric. She sold t 
clothes at craft shows. They we 
better off than they'd heen wh 
Margaret's father was around: or 
good weekend, Margaret told n 
her mother made two to three the 
sand dollars. 

"Net," she said. 

"Remarkable," I said. 

"She's good," she said. "Oth 
people copy her designs, becai 
they're easy to prtxluce. She start 
with Barbie, who's a real pain. Sh 
tiny and built and you need to { 
darts in there. Now she does t 
American Girl, which is a bigg 
doll, fewer pieces, simpler patten 
The body is easy, like a little giJ 


: I you can charge more." 
met her mother. She was not 
at I expected. She had none of 
;rgaret's grace. She was raw and 
oby, the kind of woman you'd see 
a VFW hall. Her face was gray, 
. voice smoky, her hands meaty 

• Ihard. 

, I'd help her pick out colors," 
rgaret told me. "I'd tell her what 

\\ in. Sometimes I'd design a dress. 
;'d do it, and I'd want it. She'd 
ke me buy it, work it off. I'd get 
rejects for free, though. Or when 
was sewing a new pattern, she'd 
a me the first try." 
ier head sagged, and she closed 

You're sleepy," I said. 
How can you tell?" she said. "I 
I't sleep." 

i^he sat with her eyes closed. The 
It through my office window was 
>ky and cool. She dozed. I sat qui- 
/ and tried not to look at her. I 
luld have been home. 
i\fter a time, her eyes still closed, 
; said, "She made my prom 


It was beautiful." She looked up 
ne. "What?" 
Nothing," I said. 

Oh," she said. "Fuck you. 1 went 
;he prom." 

The day Margaret graduated, 
ich was ten years ago and the last 
iw her, her mother took a picture 

J he two of us standing outside the 
ary. We were in regalia, mine de- 

-ledly more elaborate. I had my 
1 around her. It was hot. I have 

, picture; her mother mailed me a 
3y, with a note I did not keep, 
inking me for all I had done for 
■ daughter. I am looking at Mar- 
et, with my lips perhaps too close 
the top of her head. I am forty in 
s picture but look older. My 
id — face, beard, hair — is shaped 
; the continent of Africa. My col- 
is off. I am blown and pasty and 
kempt. I am showing too many 
th. Margaret is photogenic. Her 
or is true. She has learned how to 
sent herself to the camera. 
'I am for you," she told me, "a 
ck girl. Chinese. Extraterrestrial, 
e Queen of freaking Sheha." 
'You've lost me," I said. 

"I'm exotic. A fantasy. But I'm 

"What are you talking about?" 

"You can want me," she said. "At 
the same time, you can pity me." 

"1 don't want you," I said. 

"You do." She smiled. With her 
finger she lightly touched the tip of 
my nose. "You're beside yourself. 
And you tell yourself you're doing 
me a good, gallaiit turn, paying at- 
tention to me, giving me some ten- 

"This is malarkey," I said. 

"You couldn't pity a black girl. Or 
a Chinese one. They would resent 


"I don't pity you." 

"You do. I don't resent it. 

-t the end of the term she pro- 
duced an essay. It was work not done 
for the course. Although she was 
regular, and responsive, in her visits 
to my office, she declined, without 
explanation or apology, to do any of 
the assignments and, after the first 
day, would not speak in class. I kept 
the essay. 


You'd like me to find my voice. 

Let's have a listen. 

In this essay I will tell how I spent 
my summer. 

I spent my summer in a rathole 
trailer, in a rathole trailer court, in 
rathole North Dakota, with my shit- 
hole boyfriend — let's call him Zippy — 
and his schizo mother, the vermin 
queen, let's call her Mom. 

I will now describe the accommo- 

The accommodations were not 
plush. They were indeed foetid. 

By this one means they were 
cramped, precluding modesty, they 
were dirty, precluding cleanliness, 
they were noisy, precluding rest, and 
they stank. 

Mom, about wln)m Kid Zip did not 
warn me, was given to bouts of drink 
and aftermathy part)xysms (if hrutality, 
and she stunk. 

There were no windows and/or 

The scabrous object o( my affec- 
tion, viz. Zippy de Doodah, left daily 
at daybreak to wrench and ratchet 
and render his fingernails unsightlier. 
Upon his crepuscular return, the 
young master used to stick one, or 
two, or three of his fingers up my 

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SOLUTION TO JANUARY DOUBLE ACROSTIC (NO. 169). miaart ewen: (all)-consum- 
ING IMAGES. The production ot sumptiious images, for the very feu, was once limited to the sa- 
cred workshops of the medieval monasteries; now, the production .in^l m:irketing ot style is glob- 
al, touching the lives arid imaginations of nearly everyone. 

CONTEST RULES: Senil the tiuot.iiion, the name ol the :uithor, ,ind the title of the work, to- 
gether with your name and address, to Douhle Ai.rostn: No. 170, Har|)er'.s Magazine, 666 Broad- 
way, New York, N.Y. 10012. If von already subscribe to Harper'.s, include a copy of your 
latest mailing label. Entries must he received hy Febriniry 8. Senders of the first three correct so- 
lutions opened at random will receive oiH'-ye;ii subscriptions to Har(ier',s Magadne. The solution 
will be printed in the M:irch issue. Winners ol the Decemlu-r 1996 Double Acrostic (No. 168) 
are Peter Roidt, H:irtland, Wisconsin; Susan Till, St. Louis, Missouri; and Joel K. Haack, (.^ed:ir 
Falls, Iowa. 

cunt, viz. my tender, perfectly fo 
nether parts, rcf^ardless, he, o 
state of his nails, greasy and snaf 
they without exception were, 
him poke and slash. Then dinner 

Mom did not work outside 
home. She did not leave the 
plush place. She did get the w( 
and the food stamps for the foods 

I was not what she'd expect 
was not pretty. I was not nice, 
smart and verbal. 1 was, as ttie 
world has heretofore noted, cock 
gargoylish, hut she was a crude d 
fuck, and I would not let her pity 

I was alone in a tin can witJ 
blessed vermin mother. I did w 
could to help. I washed the disl 
vacuumed the floor. 1 picked up 
py's little room, taking care to 
the spu: on the sheets. 1 did the 
dry. I wiped the commode. Sh 
around all day in Zippy's room 
played Nintendo. I shall illustrat 
point: she played Nintendo. Al 
did was boil meat. Meat, meat, i 
Meat everywhere. With gelat 

She was scared of me. At firs 
cause she didn't understand wha 
son was doing with me, but by tb 
because I was acting like a lunatic 
will be discussed below. 

We did not talk. She would n^ 
swer. She spoke only to say the 
cruel thing about Zippy. The bo^ 
fecal matter, but I wouldn't giv 
the satisfaction. She told Zippy 1 
bitch who had rejected her atte 
at friendship. 

Zippy would, of an evening 
home at six. A poke and a slash, 
ner, then he'd get drunk. I'd hai 
get drunk, too, otherwise he was 
too tedious. 

Once she called me Quasimo 
was impressed. 

The arrangement was not wo: 
out. My hostess for the season we 
of her guest. 

1 took a telemarketing job 
dummy bank that ran a credit 
scam. I dialed the phone and saic 
same thing 400 times a day, q 
"Hi. My name's Margaret. I'm ca 
from the Bank of Baloney Ci 
Card Center, and we just want( 
make sure it's all right if we sent 
out a free display of Visa and M 
Card applications for your custoi 
There is no charge, and we wil 
your business five dollars for e 
completed application we rec 
Would that be all right!" I'd ch 
my voice, depending on whetl 
m:in or woman answered. With 






d go debutante and creamy, like I 
■as right then having slow, sweet sex. 
or the women I'd sound young and 
nsure of myselt so they'd feel sorry 
)r me. My voice (not "my voice") 
•as gender-unspecifically irresistible. 
I Our lists were generated by com- 
luter. For three straight days 1 called 
oortion clinics. We smoked together, 
ly female associate lowlifes and 1, 
utside on break. They all had kids, 
.id all the kids were sick. One of the 
/kes had cancer, and one of them 
ad something nobody could diag- 

!' With regard to hate, 1 hated the 
lother of Zippy. 1 wanted her to die. 
wanted her, in other words, dead. 1 
lanned initially to fray her brake 
nes. Then 1 planned to go into her 
edroom and beat the bejeezus out of 
er, thrash her bareknuckled or club 
rer with the Nintendo. Then I'd go 
D work, on the assumption that if 
lOU say you didn't do something, 
lere's little chance of anyone prov- 
ig you did. 

Before I could strike, she called my 
iiother and told her I had to go. She 
ad remembered some family commit- 
lents. My mother's response to this 
sychosis was to summon me home, 
iut I refused to leave. I stayed a week 
id took my revenge. 
' Here are examples of what I did to 
ig the old bag out: 

1) I quit telemarketing and stayed 
ome with her all day. I did nothing. 1 
it in Zippy's little room with the 
ereo cranked up. I didn't clean. The 
lace fell apart. 

2) I ate all the food in the trailer, 
assing her slowly on the way to and 
iom the refrigerator, my arms loaded 
own with grub. 

3) I sat in the back seat of her car 
henever she went anywhere and, 
ith my evil eye, stared at her in the 
larview mirror. 

4) When she was on the phone I'd 
alk right up to her, get real close, my 
ice next to hers, and shout, "I need 
)use the phone." 

5) I left half-empty pop cans, with 
ockers of spit in them, everywhere. 

6) When she got angry, I was de- 

7) The two small bedrooms were 
;parated by a sheet of beaverboard. 
/hen we fucked. Zip and I, which 1 
ow insisted we do three times a 
ight, I screamed like a banshee. Also 
let him come inside me. 

By the end of the week, the old 
ipperoo, who had begun to try my 
itience, fell in behind his mommy 

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^'Sacrif ices for Peace'' 

What else does the world expect Israel to do? 

There is persistent pressure on Israel to bring "sacrifices for peace." It is understood that 
these "sacrifices" refer to greater "flexibility" in dealing with the Arabs, but mean pri- 
marily that Israel should allow its dismemberment, in order to bring peace to the region. 

What are the facts? 

A Bizarre Concept. The concept to 
bring "sacrifices for peace" is a new one 
that has never before found application in 
world historv'. It was created by Arab pro- 
paganda to induce Israel to agree to its 
dismemberment, to give strategic assets 
to those who are determined to destroy it. 

Since its creation in 1948, Israel has been 
subjeaed to almost constant Arab terror, to 
unceasing Arab aggression, and to three 
major wars. In the Six-Day War, it recovered 
its heartland of Judea/Samaria (the "West 
Bank") and the eastern part of Jerusalem; it 
captured the Golan Heights from Syria, 
which had been used 
for decades to sheU and 
spread tertor over much 
of northern Israel; and 
it conquered Gaza and 
the Sinai Desert that 
had been used by Eg>pt 
as staging ground and 
in\asion route to Israel. 

Many Sacrifices 
for Peace. In order to 
achieve peace with its 
neighbors, Israel brought sacrifices for peace 
that have no precedent in the history of the 
world. For peace with Egypt, Israel returned 
the entire Sinai. There is little thanks on the 
part of Egypt for this generosity and this 
sacrifice for peace. The controlled Egyptian 
press spews daily anti-Israel venom. Presi- 
dent Mubarak has never visited Jerusalem. 
It is the coolest possible peace. A sacrifice 
for peace brought in vain — probably a 
major act of folly on the part of Israel. 

Israel made sacrifices for peace by sign 

Here are three good sacrifices 

that the Arabs could bring 

for peace: (1) Abandon the 

insistence on recovering the 

Golan; (2) Stop the clamor 

about the division of 

Jerusalem; (3) Disarm the 

Palestinian "police." 

peace, Israel granted Jordan a large yearly 
allowance of fresh water from its own 
dwindling and meager resources and 
accepted a petty demand for "border recti- 
fication" — yielding of land. As for Syria, no 
offered sacrifice for peace seems to be suf- 
ficient to satisfy its dictator, President 
Hafez Assad. He is unwilling to consider 
even an ice-cold peace, except for Israel's 
total surrender of the Golan Heights. For- 
tunately, under the curtent Israeli govern- 
ment such a surrender is not in the cards. 
The greatest sacrifice for peace that Israel 
has brought was the resuscitation of the 
bankrupt and moribund PLO terror organi- 
zation and the acceptance of it "chairman" 
Yasser Arafat as a nego- 
tiating partner In this 
ill-advised process, foist- 
ed on Israel by world 
pressure and by its pre- 
vious government, Israel 
has made far-reaching 
and existential sacrifices 
and concessions. It has 
yielded control of the 
Gaza Strip and of all 
major "West Bank" cities 
to the Palestinian Authority and has agreed 
to detailed plans to grant further autonomy 
to the Palestinians. In what is probably the 
ultimate folly in this process, Israel has toler- 
ated the formation of a Palestinian "police 
force" (actually an army) of 40,000 men — 
the largest police-to-population ratio in 
the world (!) — and has equipped this 
"police force' with a complete arsenal 
of automatic weapons. As the world now 
knows, these weapons were turned on Israeli 
soldiers and civilians at the very first oppor- 

ing a peace treaty with Jordan. In that tunitv' that the Palestinian leaders provoked. 

The Arab countries, not Israel, are killing peace in the Middle East. The PLO, apart from 
the bloody crimes that it has committed against Israel, has now established a virtual dicta- 
torship in the tertitoiy allotted to it. In Egypt, thousands of Copts have been killed and 
their churches burned. President Assad of Syria has occupied Lebanon and has killed and 
tortured thousands. Iraq, under its dictator Saddam Hussein, is a rogue state attacking its 
neighbors and killing its own citizens. Saudi Arabia is a monarchical tyranny. Sudan is 
engaged in the systematic slaughter and enslavement of its black African people. How 
strange that nobody asks the Palestinians or any of the Arab states to bring any sacrifices 
for peace. Here are three good sacrifices that the Arabs could bring for peace: (1) Aban- 
don the insistence on recovering the Golan; (2) Stop the clamor about the division of 
Jerusalem; (3) Disarm the Palestinian "police." Billy clubs are good enough for London 
Bobbies. Why should any more be needed to patrol Nablus, Hebron and Bethlehem? 

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and refused to talk to me. Noi 
there diddling. He would no k 
poke and/or slash, as had forr 
been his wont. 

I need complete attention pa 
me at all times, in all places. 

So, in conclusion, 1 left. 

1 had failed my wife, in a gei 
way, from the start. We had 1 
married twenty years; what sho 
there was predated Margaret. Stil 
though it was not of a strictly st 
nature, it was infidelity that hrt- 
the end of our marriage and th« 
ginning of what became for 
nearly incapacitating despair. Ai 
ferior attention, a faithlessness 
the details of my wife's illness, a 
of focus and stamina. Margaret pi 

a role in this, howeve 



said to her, "I read your essa' 

It was the last time she carr 
my office. 

I shrink when 1 think about 

She stood up. She took the I 
leather inask off the wall. Witt 
back to me she put the mask 
her face, then turned slowly aroi 

I had seen this mask worn in 
formance. 1 had worn it myself. 

On her the mask was scary. I c 
know what she was up to. 1 d 
know what to say. 1 should 
stayed quiet. 

"What you have there," I sail 
a neutral mask. It was mad 
Jacques Lecoq." 

She did not respond. 

"A neutral mask," 1 said, "has 
ther specific expression nor ch 
ter. It is neither sad nor hapf 
neither laughs nor weeps. It dep 
on silence." 1 went on. "It esser 
i:es the intention of the char; 
who wears it, and the situatio 
makes explicit the gestures o1 

She stood absolutely still. 

"And the tone ot the voice." 

She did not speak. 

"It lifts the text above the e' 
day. It filters out the essential 
drops the anecdotal. It renders 

Her stare was fixed on me anc 

"It is unimaginable that the 





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tral mask could he named, say, Zip- 
py, and could wake up in his hed. 
With you hesicie him." 

1 can only imagine what 1 wtiuld 
have said next had she not spoken. 

She took oft the mask. 

"1 don't want you to see 
r^M^ me," she said. 


Xandria 165 Valley Diive, Btisbane, CA 9-5005 1340 Vord where prohibited by taw 
I I 

his was ten years ago. 1 am not 
who 1 was, nor what 1 might have 
been. Since my divorce, 1 have 
been celibate and lonely. My ex- 
wife has remarried. When I see her, 
she is cool, wary, though not wholly 
without compassiim. She says she 
pities me. 

I wrote Margaret several letters in 
the intervening years. She replied 
briefly to the first; she did not an- 
swer the others. 1 do not know it 
they reached her. 

I have continued to teach, and 
have grown increasingly disaffect- 
ed. The enterprise has become for 
me a kind ot purgatory. Shortly af- 
ter Margaret graduated — I believe 
this an index more chronological 
than causal — 1 began to resent my 
sttidents. 1 resented them for the 
time they took from me, though 1 
had little else to do. 1 am now 
roundly unappealing To the female 
students, and resent them tor this. 
The male students, whom I never 
much liked, seem newly obtuse. 
The lot ot them ht)re me. I have de- 
camped, I suppose, leaving vacant a 
place behind the face my students 
see, behind the voice they hear. 
The face 1 see is older atui wooden; 
the voice 1 hear is unnerx-ed and 

Recently, 1 was in Louisville, at 
the Seelbach Hotel. 1 was there tor 
the Commedia Festival, in which 1 
retaiiied a pallid, vestigial interest. 
It was two in the morning, and, as 
was lately the case, I could not 
sleep. 1 turned on the radio beside 
the bed and heard her voice. At 
first I was not sure. Then, with the 
station's call letters, she said her 

1 did not recognize, or like, the 
music she played — what she called 
"progressive rock." Between songs, 
she talked. I sat down on the bed 
facing the radio. 

Although 1 knew it was her voice. 

it was not the voice I'd knin\ 
What I heard in my hotel room v 
assured, finished, without c]ui 
without edge. There was no touch 
sadness in it, or pain. It was flue 
and sexy. Safe. If I did not know Ir, 
1 wondered, how could I possiljjf 
imagine her? 

After an hour, I called the static 
I waited for the music to start, th 
dialed. She answered. 

"Yes?" she said. 

"Hello," I said. 

"Hello," she said. "Who is this?" 

"Margaret," 1 said. 

For what seemed a long time, s 
did not speak. I wasn't sure if she v 
still on the line. I thought about I 
sitting at a console filled with met 
and dials. 

"Margaret," I said. "Please." 

Then, with a calm and perfe 
anger, she said, "Who is this?" 

February Index Sources 

1 Richard Fowles, University of Utah (1 
Lake City); 2,3 RAND (Santa Mon 
Calif.); 4,5 Center on Budget and Po 
Priorities (Washington); 6 Center for 
fense Information (Washington); 7 B 
ness Alliance for International Econor 
Development (Washington); 8 Natio 
Associatiiin of Agricultural Market 
(Mexico City); 9,10 North American I 
vciopment Bank (San Antonio); 11, 
Thomas A. Watts-Fitzgerald, Assist; 
U.S. Attorney (Miami); 13,14 D 
Coursey, University of Chicago; 15 Ba| 
Research Group, Ltd. (Glendale, Cal 
16 Kruse International (Auburn, Ind.); 
Executive Collectihles (Newport Bea 
Calif); 18 Mark Kleiman, UCLA; 19 
lot Access News (San Francisco); 
Tochigi Prefectural Government (Ij 
sunomiya City, Japan); 21 Limestone C 
recticinal Facility (Capshaw, Ala.); 22 1 
nor Planet Center (Cambridge, Mass.); 
Double XXposure, Inc. (N.Y.C.); 24 T 
perware Corporation (Orlando, Fla.); 
Bil Keane (Laguna Beach, Calif); 26, 
Department ot State Licensing Serv 
(Albany)/Department of Health (Alhar 
28 American Viewpoint, Inc. (Alexand 
Va.); 29 Schwartz Public Relati 
(N.Y.C.); 30 Chicago Academy of 
ences; 31 National Commission on Tea 
ing (N.Y.C.); 32 Public Agenda (N.Y. 
33 Office of Senator Ron Wyden; 34 
fice of Senator Robert Byrd; 35 Otis Ele 
tor Company (Farmington, Conn 
United Network for Organ Sharing (Ri' 
mond, Va.); 37 Anatomical Chart Com 
ny (Skokie, III); 38,39 New England C '^ 
fcctionery Company (Cambridge, Mass.). 





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co\na(itr\X.iQ oppoiAoTum #1227 


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lbs., Houston, TX, interested in an attr I 
adventurous, socially minded female, 45-7'] 
for romance/marriage. I have energy ar 
travel. My background is Quaker-Unitaria:' 
Vanderbilt University training. #1049 

RENAISSANCE MAN— Professional, 6;| 
widower seeks interesting woman. # 1 226 



B}i Thomas H. Middleton 

_he diagram, when filled in, will contain a quota- 
tion from a published work. The numbered squares in 
the diagram correspond to the numbered blanks under 
the WORDS. The WORDS form an acrostic: the first let- 
ter of each spells the name of the author and the title 
of the work from which the quotation is taken. The 
letter in the upper right-hand comer of each square in- 
dicates the WORD containing the letter to be entered 
in that square. Contest rules and the solution to last 
month's puzzle appear on page 72. 


A. Leave a launch 

pad (of a rocket) 51 117 131 103 154 180 40 
(2 wds.) 


B. Reviving, restor- 

ing to good con- 66 7 137 167 81 194 153 42 
dition, renewal 

163 49 

C. They furnish 

equipment 124 102 6 145 176 162 121 57 

43 63 

D. Herds, large 

crowds 34 5 99 112 87 177 

E. Incited (2 wds.) 

72 16 165 141 24 65 55 

F. Grow abundantly 

(2 wds.) 172 14 92 1 113 150 37 

G. Infra dig (2 wds.) 

118 45 151 157 10 179 38 134 

29 70 

H. "O'er unhabitable 

downs /Place 27 175 17 142 106 32 44 79 

for want of 

towns" (Swift, 97 
"On Poetry") 

I. Unrestrained fun — :— 

(2 wds.) lyi 111 77 140 169 83 135 156 


]. " r(3wds.; 

Waugh, Brideshead 12^ 28 178 75 161 96 
Revisited, "Au- 
thor's Note") 

K. Unpleasant, d is- 

agreeable 173 48 46 190 20 

L. " with a hole — — 

in it, sir," says 15 115 26 193 78 47 155 50 


wds.; Dickens, 125 185 181 
Pickwick Papers) 

1 F 



3 U 

4 W 

5 6 C 

7 B 8 X 9 N^^HIO G 11 P 

12 S^^H13 V 

14 F 

15 L 



17 H 



19 W 

20 I^MHi^' M 22 R 



24 E 


26 L 

27 H 

28 J 



30 H 

31 V 

32 H 

33 W 



35 W 

36 M 

37 f 

38 G 

39 O^H 

40 A 



42 B 

43 C 

44 H 

45 G 

45 K 

47 L 

48 K 

49 B 50 L^^H51 A 

52 N 

53 M 

54 V 



56 U 

57 C I^^B 58 X 

59 P^^B|60 

61 S 

62 0HHe3 ~ 

64 T 

65 E 

66 B 

67 P 



t I^H 70 G 

71 X 

72 E 

73 U 

74 O^H75 J 

76 X 

77 1 

78 L 

79 H 

80 T 

81 B 


v^^Hes 1 

84 T 

85 R 


87 D 

88 P 

89 V 


91 S 

92 F ^^m 93 

94 U 

95 T 

96 J 

97 H 


98 X 


100 M 


101 U 

102 C 

103 A 

104 T^H 

105 S 

106 H 

107 X 




109 H 

110 X 

111 1 

112 D 

113 F 

114 V 

115 L 


117 A 


118 G 

119 S 

120 M 


121 C 



123 X 


124 C 

125 L 

126 W 

127 T 

126 S 

129 J 

130 N 

131 A 

132 R 

133 U 

134 G 

135 1 



137 B 

138 X^^Hl39 U 

140 1 

141 kB^Hl42 H 

143 N 

144 T 

145 C 

146 R 

147 M 

148 S 

149 W 



151 G^H 

152 P 

153 B^H 

154 A 

155 L 

156 1 

157 G 

158 W 


159 X 


160 U 

161 J 




164 T 


166 R 

167 B 

168 U 


169 1 

170 M 

171 V 

172 F 

173 K 




176 C 

177 D 

178 J^^H179 G 

180 A^^HISI 

182 N 

183 T 

134 O^Hl85 L 

186 R 



188 Q 

189 R^^mm K 

191 1 

192 T^^|l93 L 

194 B 

195 N 

M. Russian count, 
novelist, and 
"What Is Art?") 

N. Golf course fea- 

O. Donkey in Win- 

P. Queen Mab "is 

the midwife" 

(Romeo and]uliet) 

Q. Heating device 
R. Propitious 

S. Loony bin 

120 170 53 147 100 21 36 





























30 85 186 166 189 132 22 109 

128 119 105 122 91 61 148 12 

T. " me — he's 

got the goods" (3 64 127 183 192 80 104 164 95 
wds.; O. Henry, 
"The Unprof- 
itable Servant") 

U. Detrimental 

144 84 

3 73 68 101 

168 133 56 
108 136 160 

V. Enureats 

54 114 13 171 31 82 89 

W. Small, slender, 

long-armed arbo- 126 149 35 19 4 33 158 
real apes of E. In- 
dies and southern 

X. Strove — 

76 98 no 12? 159 71 5H 

107 138 



Sixes and Sevens V 

By Richard E. Malthy jr. 

(with acknowledfiiTtcnts to ZancL'r tij The LisIi'iut) 


Ahe clues to words of six and seven letters are 
grouped separately. Solvers must determine where 
each answer helongs in the diagram, using answers 
to the numbered clues as guides. 24 Down is an un- 
common word. Answers include two proper nouns. 
As always, mental repunctuation ot a clue is the 
key to its solution. The solution to last month's 
pu::le appears on page 72. 


1 1. Go after draggle-tail denizen of St. Mark's Place! (4) 

12. Nonessential aspect of sex transformation (5) 
16. Imps say had things about onions (12) 

24. Dancing girls copy tot, but his lite is a cipher (12) 

30. Current goes dead at Rent (5) 

3 1 . Sole mousse for summer babies (4) 


2. Something called it back, circling clmpper (4) 

4- No end to a country's money (5) 

7. "Right on!" — party music (5) 

9. They're a cinch to be hits! (5) 

24. Crab's claw produces stomachache, lasting just a bit (5) 

25. Shout ot joy from a brute? (5) 

26. Senior "Replace Dole" Republican (5) 
28. Do hn a transformation (4) 


a. Turn up U.S.S.R. requisitions 

b. Down, down on the French burden 

c. Does something uplifting dressed in Lastex? 

d. Cues for a deer, holding revolver butt 
c. Builds theater income with 











































f. Saab .sedan replacing a Beetle 

g. God-child or king, taken aback 

h. Head of Syrian PLO is shaking booty 

i. Like thing.s close? 

j. Go Shakespearean, with no K^iger looney tune 

k. International group races in Opens 

1. Steer food toward the West — girl is English 


a. Cross bull with wild deer — as a side effect got replica- 


b. Left things to look back over RBls, for example 

c. Eerie face in bad dreams leaves you wiped 

d. Not for showing over street 

e. Sty? 

f. "What a looker!" (Something repeated softly) 

g. What celebrity never hears at a posh restaurant? 
h. Complicated project 

i. Show your former spouse ("Hello!") part of a drill 

j. Live dangerously, anted up 

k. So-called Lion-man released 

1. Compressing sounds around Long Island Sound, re- 

Contest Rules: Send completed dinfiriim with name and address to "Sixes and Sevens V," Har/vr's Magazine, 666 Broadway, New York, 
N.Y. 10012. If you already suh>crihe ro HaTpcr\. please include a copy of your latest mailing label. Entrie.s must he received by Fehruary 8. 
Senders of the first three correct .solutions opened at random will receive one-year subscriptions to Harper's Magaj-ine. Winners' names will 
he printed in the April is.suc. Winners of the Deceinher 1W6 pu::le, "Triplets 11," are Shirley Elliott, Brewster, Massachusetts; Anita Wmn, 
Lehanon, Pennsylvania; and B.irh Toiiilinson, Seattle, Washaif^ton. 


©Philip Morris Inc. 1997 




Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, 
Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy. 








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Looking for the Sun in Greenland's Endless Night 

B}! Gretel Ehrlich 


After the Berkeley Fire, an Architectural Disaster 

By David L. Kirp 


The Public Library as Entertainment Center 
B)' Sallie Tisdale 


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A story by Steven Millhauser LIBRARY 

Also: Jonathan Franzen, Edward Luttwak, Graham Nash 


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MAIU'll l'M)7 

Letters 4 

The Politics oi Meanness Ahm Shcfsky, (Vnis Lt'/ir/uoiii 

Notebook 9 

Alms lor OhliN'ion /.t'lc/'s J /. l,((/)/uiin 

Harper's Index 1 3 

Readinj^s 1 5 

The Elusive Cnnil ol War Trials Michael l^vulicjj 

A Sheriff for Toon Town Linda Shima-Tsuni) 

The Gt)spel Accordinj^ to Greenspan Edward Lumvak 

Laii^'her C^urve R'c'?ine(/i H. CWaik et al. 

A Room with Too Much View Michael Polkax 

The Basement War Jt))\alhan Franzcn 

Legend W. S. Mervuin 

And . . . Francis Yelk)w, I'hylHs (.lulcmho, L}raham Nash, 

Pennel Phlander hwin v. Commissit)ner of Inlernal Revenue 

Report 34 

COLD COM FORT C hciel FMich 
Looking for the sun in Greenland's endless nighr 

Letter 45 

After the Berkeley fire, an architeclural disaster 

Annotation 54 

One lohhyist's attempt to 
transmute despair into doil.irs 

Story 57 

THE KNIFE TIIRC^WFR Sicvcn Millhauser 

Miscellany 65 

SILENC :E, pi J^ASF Sallie Tisdalc 
The puhlic lihrary as cntertaiiimeiil cenler 

Acrostic 79 77inni((s 1 1. Middlctim 

Puzzle 80 Richard /: , Mahhy jr. 

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Li.wi^ H. Lm'Ham 

Deputy EdiUir 
Coi.iN Harrison 

Mami,i^'n^ Editor 

Senior Editon 
Charis Conn, Pali TowjH 

Art Director 
Anc;ela RiEe:HERS 

Associate Editors 

i,:lara Jeffery. Benjamin Sanders Metcalf, 

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Assisumt Editors 
Rl«er D. HoixjE, Joel Lovell 

Editorial Assistant 
Susan Burton 

Assistant to i/ie Editor 
Ann Kyle Gollin 


Eric Brosch, Keith DoNOciHUE, 

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Contn/inting Editors 

Scorr Anderson, L. J. Davis, 

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David Glterson, Barbara Grizzlti Harrison, 

Jack Hitt, Stephen Hubbell, Barry Lopez, 

Tetfr Marin, Vince Passaro, George Plimptcin, 

Richard Rodriguez, Elizabeth Rubin, 

David Samuels, Bob Shacochis, 

Earl Shorris. Shelby Steele, Sallie Tisdale, 

David Foster Wallace, Tom Wolfe 

Ml( HALL POLI AN, Edltor-iII'Ltlroc 

John R M \i AktI-IIR, PrcMdenl mid PiiWisher 
Vice President and Associate Puhltshcr 

Peter D. Kendall 

ViLC President a7id Genera/ Manager 

Jeanne Dubi 

Vice President, Circulation 
Lynn Carlson 

Vice President. PtiWic Rektinns 
Sean McLaughlin 

Danielle Lisa DiMatteo, Circiil<iiion Manuijer 

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Assistant to the PuWis/ier/ Rifj/iis and Ke/innls 

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V\N N( .1 YFN, ProdiiLiion Mana,i;er 

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Sales Ke/ireseiuatnes 

( 'liiea,t;o MICHAEL RociiA & Associ,\ FFs, 

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The Politics of Meanness 

As a Idn^rime reader ot both Harp- 
er's Magazine and Tikkun, 1 was fasci- 
nated to read Peter Marin's essay 
["An American Yearning," December 
1996] on Tikkun editor and publisher 
Michael Lerner and his National 
Summit on Ethics and Meaning in 
Wa.shin,L,'ton. The essay was smart and 
biting, unsparing in its observaticYns 
of some ot the excesses and eccentric- 
ities of Lerner and the Summit, but it 
seemed to be grounded in cynicism 
and smug self-satisfaction. It seemed 
to expect the reader to say, "Thank 
God I'm smart enough not to do this; 
thank God I'm not foolish enough to 
believe t/uit." Marin is right to criti- 
cize belief that is foolishly or thought- 
lessly placed, but his own position al- 
lows for no belief at all, and for no 
possibility of action. 

Tikkun is attempting to create a 
framework that can become a basis 
for positive action, and yes, this 
framework necessarily incorporates 
such tainted notions as "spirituality," 
"meaning," and "hope." Marin is will- 
ing at least to conce^le that "people 
need hope," but he derides as "foolish 
and delusionary" those avenues of 
hope that people manage to find. He 
goes on to say that "those who cannot 
find joy or satisfaction in the present, 
in the world as it is, are not likely to 
find them elsewhere anytime soon." 
By contrast, Lerner and Tikkun are at- 
tempting to foster a politics, drawing 
on Jewish tradition, that refuses to see 
satisfaction in the present, that at- 
tempts to respond to the hoUowness 
and darkness that confront us — the 

Harper's Magazine wcknmes reader response. 
PlcLue address ctrrrespoiuience tu Letters Edi- 
iiir. Short letters are more likely to be pid> 
lished, and all letters are subject to editing^. Vol- 
ume precludes individual ackn neled^nent . 

hoUowness and darkness perceptiblJ 
for example, in Charles Bowden| 
"While You Were Sleeping" in t\ 
very same issue of Harper's. 

Marin sees in the Politics of Meaij 
ing a fear of freedom. He is correc 
perhaps, in detecting a proscripti\ 
tendency, a tendency to round ol 
the messy edges of things. But thef 
is also a deep respect for freedom, [ 
belief that, given adequate resource 
people will find ways to use the! 
freedom less cruelly. Tikkun deriv| 
its name from the biblical injunctic 
concerning tikkun olam — to menij 
heal, transform the world. This md 
seem a tall order, hut what, exactll 
are the other options? "Last days, o| 
friend, last days," Marin quips. La 
days or not, these days call for mo| 
than just wry commentary. 

Alan Shefsky 

Peter Marin notes the boomel 
heavy demographics of the Sumr 
on Ethics and Meaning, but 
doesn't make enough of hoi 
Michael Lerner's staggering morl 
self-regard has been fed by the hubn 
of a generation that still feels it hi 
been chosen to redeem the world.! 
should know. 1 was Tikkun s assistaj 
editor from 1990 to 1992, and durin 
my tenure there, Lerner routinely iJ 
voked the ends-justifies-the-meaj 
reasoning perfected by the new le 
to steer the magazine toward the pe 
sonality-driven politics that it nc 
specializes in almost exclusively. 

Not long after arriving at tJ 
magazine, for example, I learn^ 
that Lerner was in the habit of cor 
posing pseudonymous letters to til 
editor that held great praise for 
own insight and vision. Whei 
confronted Lerner and threatened 

I lARPI-Ks MAt lA/lNH / MARl W I^W? 

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"A satirical brazenness 
that holds up to 

Twain and 
Nathanael West." 

—The New Yorker 

Join NPR commentator 
David Sedaris as he bares all 
in seventeen wickedly comic 
autobi()j;Ta{)hical tales — the 
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Barrel Fever. 

"One of America's most 
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jt II 

Niiknl is also ;i\:iil:il)l(' ;is ;i 'I'imc Warner' AudidlicMik 

quit it iIk- jiracticc continued, he 
niainrained rhar he was merely en- 
uayed in "creative writing" that 
helped to extend the various dia- 
logues that enlivened "the Tikkun 
ci>inmuniry." Although he agreed at 
the tiiTK" to stop writing the letters, 
he resumed upon my departure. 

I.erner also engaged in the time- 
honored leftist tradition of hanging 
workers out to dry. When the maga- 
zine's associate publisher cpiit in 
h^yZ, Lerner and Tikkun's governing 
hoard moved to eliminate the posi- 
lion ani.1 to i.listrihute its duties 
among the magazine's ft)ur editorial 
and jMoiluction employees. No addi- 
tional compensation was to accom- 
|iany the new duties. 

When we protested, Lerner and 
the hoard responded with a plan to 
institute 30 percent across-the-board 
workforce or salary cuts; we resigned 
and were replaced by unpaid interns. 
As 1 prepared to leave, Lerner re- 
jMoacbed me tor my "moral account- 
ability" in the labor ctmflict. Shortly 
atterwarLl, ot course, Lerner and 
Tikkun, thanks to the .spiritual unrest 
ot our First Lady, mo\'ed on to minor 
political and theological celebrity. 

Thus does the fast and loose talk 
ot "pain" and "healing" and "mean- 
ing" one hears issuing from these 
self -imporl ant Lerner-sponsorei.1 
conferences have a distinctly disin- 
genuous ring for me. So, for that 
marier, does the name of Tikkun s 
nonprofit go\'erning board: The In- 
siiiule for Labor and Mental I ieallli. 

C -/iri.s l.L'hmann 
Northport, N.Y. 


In the C\tober 1996 Readings, 
licnjK-r's Miii^axinc printed an e.xcerpt 
ot a letter written by Ueorge Orwell 
lo ("elia Kirwan of the British Secret 
Ser\ ice |"Li.-iuling Big Brother a 
Hand"! in which he menlions my 
great-grandtather, the Russian trans- 
lator and cnlic ( lleb Slni\e. TIk' ti- 
tle and mtrodiiciion lo ihe letter, 
l^rovuled by //ur/vr'.s, imply that Or- 
well is naming possible Oommunist 
collaborators and ihus that C^lrwell 
believes Oleb Stru\e to be such. 
This is utter nonsense. 

Il is cL'ar from the complete letter 
(s(.-nl to me by Struve's widow) that 

Orwell was providing names of pecj 
pie he thought could be trusted t 
produce anti-Communist literature, 
is worth noting that Struve translatei 
Orwell's Ammcd Farm into Russian. 
1 am also enclosing a copy of a le 
ter sent to me by Richard Pipes, b 
ographer of Struve's father, Pel 
Struve, in response to your article. 

Mr. Wheeler. 

Thank you for the clippinfi. h is qui 
clear from the context that Orwell m 
asked for writers capable of writing anti 
Communist propaganda and that fi 
mentions Gleh Struve as a possibiliv 
The New Leader and Commentai 
were staunchly anti-Communist, and 
(by this time) was [the writer Fran 
Borkcnau. Orwell then goes on to sc 
that he can also supply names of crypu 
Communists, etc., who cannot he trus 
L'd. It IS clear that in Orwell's view GlM' 
was someone who cduld be trusted. It 
an outrage that Harper's Magazin 
would misconstrue Orwell's letter and 
the process, malign Gleb Struve. Yc 
owe it to his memory to write a letter ar 
set things straight. 

— Richard Pip< 

I hope you will .see fit to correct an 
clarify your published misiiiformatior 

K'ei'in Wheeler 
San Francisco 

Editors' note: 

Clearly George Orwell believe ' 
neither Gleb Struve nor Franz Borkq|™ 
nau to be a potential Communi 
collaborator. We sincerely regret th * 
implkation and any confusion it ma 
ha\'e caused. 

Border Dispute 

The December issue — and specif !p- 
cally Charles Bowden's repoi iiiv 
("While You Were Sleeping"] on th t, 
street photographers of Ciudad Juart 
and the almost ctinstant horror the ji 
depict — brought lis to a new level c fi 
diagnosis without cure. Bowden care iiu 
fully uses "we" and "us" when de 
scribing the indifference t)f Nort 
Americans to that suffering, an 
seems to think this state of affaiii 
must come as a great surprise. 1 can 
be the only North American wh' 
could ha\e predicted the current sit! 
nation in Juarez from Bill Clinton! 
description of NAFTA. Bowdeii's aii 
tide is very gix)d, but 1 don't nee 




le photos and the statistics — I need 
)me practical advice on how to fight 
ich injustice now and in the future. 
I I was also disturbed by the feeling 
lat Bowden and some of the pho- 
.)graphers he writes about may actu- 
lly enjoy the violence and excite- 
iient they chronicle. It is much 
asier (and more exciting) to run 
round and describe a situation than 
3 sit still and think of solutions, 
he photographers in Juarez are per- 
aps less suspect in this regard, be- 
cause they are, after all, bearing wit- 
less to their beliefs by continuing to 
iike photos. But Bowden is one step 
;moved from that life, and that one 
:ep puts him tar enough away to de- 
;ribe the problem and look for ways 
) solve it. 

As long as Harper's continues to 
ocument problems without suggest- 
ag actions to combat them, I will 
ave to conclude that its articles are 
lerely intended to induce mutual 
vissons of pleasurable guilt in the au- 
laors and the readers. 

■eresa A . Ellis 
acramento, Calif. 

' Charles Bowden has impressed 
imself tremendously with his dis- 
3very of the real Juarez, and his self- 
ongratulation stinks as bad as the 
ecomposing murder victims he so 
wingly describes. 1 can't wait until 
e gives us the scoop on Tijuana and 

"There are moments when i love 
iexico," he says about his ability to 
ribe a policeman with a cigarette so 
lat the cop will let his photographer 
iriend snap another picture of a 
orpse. Eventually he finds he's "gone 
lative. Reality comes and goes for 
le." That old magical realism again! 

"You give us hope," Bowden's pho- 
Dgrapher friends tell him. Even so, 
ley're sure he'll never get the grisly 
icture of a murdered "girl" published, 
iut they underestimate their white 
ope: the photo triumphantly appears 
n the first pages of the article. 

The sad truth is that Bowden's 
dolescent fascination with the sensa- 
ional and spectacular aspects of 
rime in Juarez and his self-conscious- 
/ heroic involvement in bringing it 

Continued im iMj^c 77 



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Alms for oblivion 
B); Lewis H. Lapham 

'ime hath, my lord, a wallet at his back, 
'/herein he puts alms for oblivion , 
I great-sized monster of ingratitudes: 
hose scraps are good deeds past; which 
, are devour'd 

>.s fast as they are made, forgot as soon 
iS done: perseverance , dear my lord, 
eeps honour bright . . . 

— William Shakespeare 


hen I agreed late last summer 
:3 go to New Orleans in early Janu- 
i,ry for the celebration of what would 
|.ave been the late Bernard DeVoto's 
jne hundredth birthday, 1 made the 
liistake of thinking that I could meet 
"le rhetorical demands of the occa- 
on with a few words of well-turned 
raise. What I knew of DeVoto, I 
inew from reading his more famous 
ooks — 1846: The Year of Decision, 
across the Wide Missouri, The Course 
(Empire, Mark Twain's America. I 
inew him as a first-rate historian, 
■assionate in his feeling for the nine- 
eenth-century American West, and 
s a fine writer whose accounts of the 
mg line of ox-drawn wagons lum- 
ering across the plains from the 
4issouri River to Fort Laramie and 
■outh Pass had shaped much of my 
wn imagining of the Oregon Trail. 

But the program called for me to 
3eak about DeVoto in his character as 

journalist, specifically as the author 
f the monthly column appearing in 
larper's Magazine between 1935 and 
955 under the rubric "The Easy 
^hair," and these writings 1 knew on- 
/ by hearsay. From time to time at a 
Jew York literary assembly I would 
jn across a senior member of the city's 
ublishing faculty, who would say that 
: I took the trouble to read DeVoto in 

"The Easy Chair" 1 might learn some- 
thing useful about American politics 
and the English language. But although 
I invariably assured the gentleman in 
question that I would turn to the les- 
son at once, invariably 1 postponed 
doing so, probably because I didn't 
want to be reminded of my own short- 
comings as DeVoto's successor. 

The present "Notebook" is the con- 
tinuation of "The Easy Chair," which 
is the oldest column in American jour- 
nalism. First published in Harper's 
Magazine in 1851, it has been written 
in the years since by only seven men, 
among them William Dean Howells, 
who wrote the column between 1900 
and 1920, at the zenith of his reputa- 
tion as the acknowledged dean of 
American letters. A successful novel- 
ist (A Hazard of New Fortunes , The 
Rise of Silas Lapham, etc.) and a former 
editor of The Atlantic, Howells was a 
man so famous in his day that his por- 
trait was to be seen on cigar-box labels. 

DeVoto took up the column in 
1935, well aware of its historical prece- 
dents and in the midst of one of his 
long-standing arguments with the New 
York book crowd about the lite and 
art of Mark Twain. Eastern tea-table 
opinion at the time held that Twain 
had been ruined by his travels west ot 
the Mississippi (a good mind gone to 
rot in the brothels of San Francisco 
and the deserts of Nevada), and De- 
Voto delighted in wrecking the dain- 
ty misperceptions cherished by critics 
who never had been west of the Al- 
gonquin Hotel. 

Born in Ogden, Utah, under the 
western slope of the Wasatch Moun- 
tains, the son ot a Mormon tather and 
a Catholic mother (both apostate), 
DeVoto attended public high school 

and Harvard University before set- 
tling, in 1927, in Cambridge, Massa- 
chusetts. His presence in the East 
strengthened his fierce affection for 
the West, and his writing is every- 
where marked by poignant remem- 
brance of western landscapes, western 
grasses, western animals and birds. 

The composition of "The Easy 
Chair," a column always grotesquely 
misnamed, he looked upon as the first 
of what he called his "private assigri- 
ments," and as 1 read through back is- 
sues of Harper's Magazine prior to go- 
ing to New Orleans, 1 encountered a 
writer whom 1 came increasingly to 
admire, and one whose like no longer 
appears in the arenas of American jour- 
nalism. Free ot ideological cant and 
capable of keeping straight the differ- 
ent tenses and declensions of time, 
DeVoto addressed his remarks to a lit- 
erate society that constructed its 
thought with words instead of images. 

He died suddenly of a ruptured heart 
in 1955, a year when I was still in col- 
lege, but from his photographs and 
from people who knew him well, 1 
gathered that he was somewhat simi- 
lar in appearance to H. L. Mencken, a 
heavy smoker (cigarettes, not cigars) 
who didn't mince his words and wore 
his ciinvictions on his sleex'e. By nature 
contrarian, he undertook the writing 
ot "The Easy Chair" in the spirit of 
dissent and as a matter of civic obli- 
gatic^n. The American democracy he 
understood as an idea in motion and a 
set ot principles constantly in need ot 
further experiment and revision. 
Against the impulse to declare the ex- 
periment complete (an impulse easily 
confused by the wellborn and com- 
fortably placed with the will of Divine 
Providence), DeVoto construed "The 


Easy Chair" as a relcntlos questiDiiin^ 
nf whatever temporary wisdom 
chanced to have been elected to po- 
litical or literary office. 

NX4iat was remarkable was not only 
LWoto's broaei can\'as ot topics — the 
fascist components of McCarthy ism, 
the improper manufacture of kitchen 
knives and the proper manufacture of 
a martini, the feckless destruction of 
the public land and the national forest 
(by rapacious timber and mining in- 
terests that enjoyed, then as now, the 
blessings of a compliant Congress), 
the Mexican and Civil wars, detective 
novels, Marxism, the Union Pacific 
Railroad, sagebrush, and the FBI — but 
also his many tones of voice — sardon- 
ic, whimsical, poetic, angry, puckish, 
romantic, mocking, philosophical. 

Often at odds with his peers in the 
literary trades, he detested flag-wav- 
ing patriots, thought Harry Truman 
too conservative in his politics and 
Thomas Wolfe too liberal with his ad- 
jectives, never tired of emptying the 
slops of ridicule on the heads of imbe- 
cile no\'elists and crooked politicians. 
Many of his columns read as if they 
had been written last week, and fol- 
lowing their progress through the pages 
of Harper s Magazine, I marked enough 
passages to teach a semester's cciurse in 
what DeVoto would have called "the 
technic" of declamatory priise. 

On government surveillance: An- 
nouncing in 1949 (i.e., long before it 
was safe to do so) that henceforth he 
would refuse to cooperate with gov- 
ernment investigations loosed upon 
the citizenry by the House Un-Amer- 
ican Activities Committee or the 
FBI — "I like a country where it's no- 
body's damned business what maga- 
zines anyone reads, what he thinks, 
whiim he has cocktails with. I like a 
country where we do not have to stuff 
the chimney against listening ears. . . . 
We had that kind of country a little 
while ago, and I'm for getting it back. 
It was a lot less scarei.1 than the one 
we'\'e got now." 

On bap WRlTINc;: With specific refer- 
ence to Miss Gertrude Stein, "u'hose 
art had no connection whatever with 
life or i^leath, K)ve or hate, rejoicing or 
grief, success or failure, belief or doubt, 
any other emotion of mankind, any 
experience of anyone, or any of the 

\alues that enable people to live to- 
gether — an art which fUiated freely in 
a medium of pure caprice sustained by 
nothing except its awareness i:>f its own 
inner wtindrousness." 

On PEMOCRACY: Relieving Walter 
Lippmann in 1939 c-)f the delicate im- 
pression that democratic government is 
a stately exchange of high-minded, non- 
partisan views among the senitir mem- 
bers of the Century Club, that it some- 
how can be washed clean of envy, 
jealousy, or greed, that it is ever any- 
thing other than the work of ordinary 
men, bewildered, groping, at cross pur- 
poses, verbose — "The Senate had not 
forgotten, as Mr. Lippmann had, that 
this is a democracy. The Senators are 
politicians, much less clever than you or 
I, much more steeped in partisanship 
than Mr. Lippmann. They are certain 
to befog its issues with deplorable ig- 
norance, certain to distort them with 
partisan interests of political parties, 
personal candidacies, business interests 
and pressure groups. . . . Thank God!" 

On RALMCAL CHIC: Speaking in 1940 
of a doe-eyed leftist intellectual who 
had supported the "brave and wholly 
literary rebellion" of Marxism with 
the enthusiasm of an inherited for- 
tune and abruptly finds himself be- 
trayed by Stalin's pact with Hitler — 
"You can say something, if uselessly, to 
a friend whose child has died, whose 
wife has left him, whose ambition has 
been wrecked. But what can you say to 
a friend whose god has 
-^^ -J- died?" 

A. ^o matter what the topic at 
hand, DeVoto's strength as a writer 
springs from his understanding that 
history is a continuous narrative, as 
closely bound to time future as to 
time past. His Mormon grandfather 
climbed the grade of the Platte River 
in company with Brigham Young, 
and, once arrived in the Utah Valley 
under the auspices oi the angel Mo- 
roni, he resurrected the dead land 
with apple orchards, and where he 
found the earth poisoned with vol- 
canic ash he made it sweet with Cot- 
tonwood trees. 

Two of DeVoto's most somber 
columns draw the lines of historical 
perspective on the blackboard of the 
Second World War. The German 

armies invadeil Poland on Septemb^ 
I, 1939, but the printing schedule . 
Harper's Magazine delayed DeVoto 
response until the November issue an 
a column entitled "The Oncoming 
He begins with his listening to th 
news of the invasion oil a car radio i 
the hills of northern Vermont. Tb 
far-off voices, urgent and broken b 
static, remind him of a bright afte; 
noon in August 1914, in the Rock 
Mountains. The German armies hav 
marched into Belgium, and DeVoto ' 
seventeen years old, at work in a new 
paper office, copying the bulletins froi 
the Associated Press wire onto loi 
strips of cheap paper and hanging tl 
news in the windows from lengths ( 
twine. The pictures in his head ai 
those of a storybook war — Uhlans si 
ting astride their horses against the Be 
gian sky at twilight, British destroye 
putting hurriedly to sea, columns ( 
dust-gray troops marching throug 
fields of ripening wheat — all pretty pi 
tures, as romantic as Sir Lancelot an 
as far away as Saturn. The nostalg 
sentiment doesn't last as long as tb 
next sentence. Correcting it at one 
with the counterweight of history (tb 
sum of the dead at Chateau-Thieri 
and Verdun, what happened to Pres 
dent Wilson's useless Fourteen Point 
and knowing that "this time the w; 
will be neither distant nor romantic 
even to boys," DeVoto wonders wh; 
will become of America and what 1 
will say to his nine-year-old son. F 
measures the likely cost of the war I 
the loss of individual liberty, e\e 
among the victors, and by the probab 
transformation of "a nation that nc 
er quite existed" into something a goi 
deal closer in character and tone to 
authoritarian bureaucracy. 

The questions lead DeVoto first 
the thought that his son will riot gro| 
up in the America in which he w; 
born, and then, bearing in mind 
grandfather's trees, to the furtht 
thought, "but neither did I, or anyor 
else who has ever lived here." Amet 
ca is about making the best of wh, 
can be made of circumstances usual 
adverse, and the cost of any life is rl 
price asked for it, which, as often ; 
not, comes down to a "belief in a rigl 
and truth that do not exist, conscrij 
tion in a war against the uncomprc 
bended for reascms never given." 

10 1 L\Rri irs ma( ;.a7Inf. / march iw? 

A similarly hard-edged realism in- 
orms a column that DeVoto intro- 
luces five years later with the sentences, 
'You may remember the Lost Genera- 
ion. It was primarily a literary phe- 
lomenon, an invention of novelists." 
5y April 1944 the end of the Second 
J(/orld War was plainly in sight, and 
DeVoto sets out to forestall a reprise of 
he self-pity that became fashionable in 
he 1920s. The trope of the Lost Gen- 
;ration he attributes to Ernest Hem- 
ngway and finds "sickly and unclean," 
1 cliche much in vogue among college 
:)oys drinking iced gin under potted 
)alms, nodding their glossy heads and 
apping their glossy shoes in time to a 
liole Porter tune, saying that their fin- 
;r feelings had been so bruised by the 
igliness of war that "they saw quite 
hrough life's hollow shams." DeVoto 
/cry much hopes that this time there 
vill be none of that. Yes, the conditions 
jf life are not what any of us would 
;hoose — "It is too bad that we grow 
)ld, too bad that we prove less ad- 
nirable than we thought, too bad that 
ove fails, ambition peters out, friends 
lie, dreams come to nothing" — but the 
vaste and failure of an individual does 
lot mean that "God had it in for him" 
)r that "a private pain in the bowels" 
troves the theorem of the world's evil. 

Again it is DeVoto's sense of histo- 
y (of the generations belonging to the 
lame repertory company, succeeding 
)ne another on the same stage) that 
;nlarges his argument. He is not talk- 
ng merely about literary affectation. 
Simultaneously and in the same wide 
ens with the languid tableau of the 
^ost Generation posed in tuxedos and 
evening gowns against a Manhattan 
kyline, DeVoto sees the wounded 
irmies of the Potomac and Northern 
/irginia, walking home from the Civ- 
1 War without shoes, wearing ragged 
md stinking clothes, carrying with 
hem the memories of panic, hunger, 
ice, dysentery, and their friends blown 
bloody shreds, and, whether they 
vere going South or North, "the best 
'ears of their youth devoured by war, 
10 fine thing done, no fine thing pos- 
sible in the time remaining." 

And what became of that genera- 
ion, and who among them sang the 
■ad songs of self-pity? Instead of ad- 
niring the symbolic impotence of Jake 
Barnes, they went out and sold the 

crops, repaired the farm, "broke the 

prairies, dug the mines, occupied the 

West, built the railroads, manned 

the industry that remade 


the world." 

die celebration of DeVoto's cen- 
tennial birthday took place on January 
1 1 , at Le Petite Theatre in the New 
Orleans French Quarter, across St. Pe- 
ter Street from the old Spanish build- 
ing in which, on December 20, 1803, 
the envoys of Napoleon transferred to 
the agents of Thomas Jefferson the 
deed to the Louisiana Purchase. An 
audience of maybe two hundred people, 
almost all of them over the age of fifty, 
listened to a series of appreciative re- 
marks by DeVoto's son, Mark, by 
Stephen Ambrose, Patricia Limerick, 
and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. The pro- 
gram occupied the whole of the day, 
and as I listened to the several scholars 
talk about different aspects of DeVoto's 
work (his editing of the Lewis and 
Clark journals, his efforts on behalf of 
the public lands), it was easy enough to 
think of the objections that could be 
raised against his telling of the Amer- 
ican tale — overly triumphant, too 
many white men in the foreground and 
not enough women in the scene, too 
idealistic a faith in Manifest Destiny. 
Some of the objections no doubt 
could be sustained, but what struck 
me even more forcibly were the dif- 
ferences between DeVoto's language — 
rooted in fact and grounded in narra- 
tive — and our own postliterate drift of 
images set to the music of television. 
Narrative becomes a picturesque mon- 
tage (like a commercial for Calvin 
Klein's Obsession or movies as flaccid 
as The English Patient), and the dis- 
tinctions between time present and 
time past dissolve into the mirrors of 
the eternal present. The effects are 
sometimes marvelous to behold, but 
how do we write history in a language 
like Gertrude Stein's, one that floats 
freely "in a medium of pure caprice 
sustained by nothing except its aware- 
ness of its own inner wondrousness," 
and if we don't know how to tell our- 
selves our own story, then hov/ do we 
knov*/ who we are? DeVoto would have 
thought the questions worth the trou- 
ble of an answer, and next month in 
this space I'll attempt, if not an an- 
swer, at least a preliminary hearing, ts 




_Now^ Wth 


more art. 

Oregon is home to more great 
art than ever belore. 1 ne ru.stic town 

ol Joseph, crouclierl under the 
stunnine W;ulowa jVi-Ountains, lias 
quietly gained a worla-reno-wnea 
reputation lor its bronze loundries. 
Our ceramics tradition, on display 

at romantic seaside villages, is a 
well-kept secret, but probably not 

lor lone;. And our Jrendleton 
blankets and the intricately carved 

masks ol JSIortlTwest V^oast tribes 
nave aWays been -worth writing 

home about. And speaking; 
ol celebrated indigenous art, how 

about that Iree Oregon iravel 

(juide, huh.' (JNot to mention our 

Web site: wA\rw. travelore^ 

1 nines look aillerent liere. 

Call i-8oo-5j^'^-yS/[-2. 

The Bombay Sapphire Martini. As Sculpted by Robert Lee Morris. 


Bombay® Sapphire'" Gin 47% alc/vol (94 Proof) 100% grain neutral spirits ©1993 Carillon Importers, LTD., Teaneck. N.J. ©1993 Robert Lee Morris. 


Federal funds spent since last October to gild Newt Gingrich's office ceilii-ig, gold excluded : $40,400 

Speaking fees earned last year by Book of Virtues author William Bennett : $1,800,000 

Number of questions Justice Clarence Thomas asked last January during oral arguments of the Paula Jones case : 

Amount the Library of Congress spent last year to create a braille edition of Playboy : $60,000 

Number of sex offenders' addresses registered with New Jersey police since the passage of Megan's law : 3,532 

Amount Albuquerque began charging criminals last October for each night spent in jail ; $40 

Number of ex-inmates of South Africa's Robben Island Prison who now serve as tour guides there : 4 

Number of ex-guards who do : 2 

Chance that an inmate in a Peruvian prison is being held for terrorism s 1 in 5 

Number of wars ever fought between countries that both had at least one McDonald's franchise : 

Percentage of the number of tanks the Republic of Yugoslavia promised to destroy last year that have been destroyed : 300 

Portion of the $2 million in arms-demolition aid the country was promised by the U.S. last year that has been delivered : 

Percentage of the Pentagon's daily Gulf War records of soldiers' chemical exposure that are missing : 76 

Number of EPA studies ever conducted on how commercially used toxic chemicals react in combination : 

Amount oil companies owe the U.S. for undervaluing the oil pumped from public land since 1978 ; $2,050,000,000 

Percentage of the cigarettes sold overseas by U.S. companies last year that were manufactured overseas : 66 

Value of the business U.S. firms claim to lose each year because they cannot legally bribe foreign officials : $11,000,000,000 

Number of foreign lobbyists convicted since 1963 of failing to comply with U.S. financial-disclosure laws : 

Value of the corporate tax breaks attached to last summer's minimum-wage bill : $21,400,000,000 

Years of minimum-wage work required to earn what Disney gave Mike Ovitz last year as a separation package : 6,708 

Average number of 1 01 Dalmatians products introduced each day since the film's release last winter ; 380 

Ratio of the maximum number of seats in the new Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan to the number of drink holders : 1:2 

Percentage of Americans who say that they have "pretty much or most everything" they need : 79 

Percentage change since 1990 in the number of Americans filing for personal bankruptcy : +22 

Price for which a Kissimmee, Florida, woman allegedly offered to sell her five-year-old niece to a stranger last December : $24 

Price of a diamond-encrusted Miracle Bra introduced by Victoria's Secret last fall : $1,000,000 

Number sold so far ; 

Attendance at the first annual Christian Nudist Convention, held last year in Shallotte, North Carolina : 65 

Ratio of attendance at U.S. bingo games last year to attendance at professional basketball games ; 59:1 

Number of recruitment letters a USC basketball coach sent Avoridre Jones before he was signed : 900 

Chance that an American family can afford to pay full tuition at a private four-year college : 1 in 13 

Percentage change since 1990 in the total number of students taking the LSAT : -25 

Percentage change since then in the number of students taking LSATs adjusted for Attention Deficit Disorder : +1,510 

Ratio of federal research funds spent last year on AIDS to those spent on Alzheimer's, per patient : 20:1 

Average age of a member of one of the ten top-grossing rock-concert bands in the United States : 41 

Percentage of British women who find Prime Minister John Major "attractive" : 2 

„, Percentage who find Labour Leader Tony Blair "smarmy" : 24 

Chance that a magazine sold at a U.S. Army, Navy, or Air Force base is an adult magazine : 1 in 5 
Chance that a human being will view Baywatch in the next week s 1 in 6 

Figures cited have been adjusted for inflaiiim and are the latest available as of January 1997. Sources are listed on page 78. 

"Harper's Index" is a registered trademark. 





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From "Articles of Faith," by Michael Ignatieff, in 
the September/October 1996 issue of Index on 
Censorship. Ignatieff is the author, most recently, 
of Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New 
Nationalism. Hi's essay "A Cosmopolitan Among 
the True Believers" appeared in the March 1994 
issue 0/ Harper's Magazine. 


hat does it mean for a nation to come 
to terms with its past? Can a nation be recon- 
ciled to its past as an individual can, hy re- 
placing myth with fact and lies with truth.' 
Can we speak of nations "working through" a 
civil war or an atrocity as we speak of indi- 
viduals working through a traumatic memory 
or event? 

These are mysterious questions, hut they are 
also urgent and practical ones. In The Hague, 
the International Criminal Tribunal for the 
Former Yugoslavia is currently collecting evi- 
dence about atrocities in that region. It is doing 
so not simply because such crimes against hu- 
manity must be punished but also because we've 
come to believe that establishing a shared truth 
about such crimes is crucial to the eventual rec- 
onciliation of the people of the Balkans. In the 
African city of Arusha, a similar tribunal is col- 
lecting evidence about the genocide in Rwan- 

da, believing likewise that truth, justice, and 
reconciliation are indissolubly linked in the re- 
building of shattered societies. 

The great virtue of legal proceedings is that 
their evidentiary rules confer legitimacy on 
otherwise contestable facts. In this sense, war- 
crimes trials make it more difficult for societies 
to take refuge in denial — the trials do assist the 
process of uncovering the truth. It is more 
doubtful, though, whether they assist the 
process of reconciliation. The truth that mat- 
ters to people is not factual truth but moral 
truth; not a narrative that tells what happened 
but a narrative that explains ivhy it happened 
and who is responsible. 

The idea that reconciliation depends on 
shared truth presumes that shared truth about 
the past is possible. But truth is related to iden- 
tity. What you believe to be true depends, in 
some measure, on who you believe vourself to 
be. And who you believe yourself to be is most- 
ly defined in terms of who you are not. To be a 
Serb is first and foremost not to be a Croat or a 
Muslim. If a Serb is someone who believes that 
Croats have a historical tendency toward fas- 
cism and a Croat is someone who believes that 
Serbs have a penchant for genocide, then to 
discard these myths is to give up a defining ele- 
ment of Serbian or Croatian identity. 

Hill-country Serbs in the Foca region of 
Bc^snia told journalists that their ethnic mili- 
tias were obliged to cleanse the area of Muslims 
because it was a well-known fact that Muslims 
crucified Serbian children and fli)ated their 


[Planof Arnickl 




From an inicrmd memo sent last December to aides 
of Repiihliean iiovernor George Alien of Vir^nia 
by Michael McKenna, the director of policy and 
planning for the state's Department of Environ- 
merual QuaUty. Earlier that mcmih, a bipartisan 
panel, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review 
Commission (jLARC) , issued a report citing lapses 
in Allen's enforcement of state environmental 
laws, including his failure to collect fines from in- 
dustrial polluters. 


think we need to have a strategy to get us 
t)ut from under the jLARC report. Let me pro- 
pose the following: 

• Starting next Friday, and every three or 
four days thereafter, we should issue a press re- 
lease questioning a new aspect of the report. 
My preference would he to arrange them in the 
following order: 

"Department of Environmental Quality 
claims JLARC distorted fines" 

"Department of Environmental Quality as- 
serts pattern of inaccuracy in JLARC report" 

"JLARC report flawed; fails to note accom- 

• Shortly, like in the next week, get the gov- 
ernor to sign a letter [defending his environ- 
mental record], which we can send to The 
Washingt(m Post, The New York Times, and oth- 
er papers. 

• Immediately engage in some play-action to 
freeze rhe linebackers. Three possibilities: 

Have one of us write a letter to JP [John P. 
Wt)odley, state deputy attorney general] asking 
whether we have a cause of acti(Mi for lihel 
against JLARC. Leak it to the press. 

Get soniei)ne in Congress to send a letter to 
the EPA askmg them to provide both docu- 
mentatiori backing up JLARC's analysis and 
EPA's own assessment of the validity of 
JLARC's analysis using EPA numbers. Leak 
this to the press and have a congressional over- 
sight guy talk (off the record) about a potential 
oversight hearing. 

File a Freedom of Information Act petition 
with JLARC for any correspondence the panel 
hai_l with the press. File imder oLir names so 
they kni)vv we're the ones coming after them. 

bodies down the river past Serbian settlements. 
Since such myths do not need factual corrobo- 
ration in order to reproduce themselves, they 
are not likely to be dispelled by the patient as- 
sembly of evidence to the contrary. Myth is 
strangely impervious to facts. 

Another problem with shared truth is that it 
does not lie "in between." It is not a compro- 
mise between two competing versions of 
events. Either the siege of Sarajevo was a delib- 
erate attempt to terrorize and subvert the elect- 
ed government of an internationally recognized 
state or it was a legitimate preemptive defense 
of the Serbs' homeland from Muslim attack. It 
cannot be both. 

It is also an illusion to suppose that "impar- 
tial" or "objective" outsiders could ever succeed 
in getting their moral and interpretive account 
of the catastrophe accepted by the parties to 
the conflict. The very fact of being an outsider 
discredits rather than reinforces one's legitima- 
cy. For there is always a truth that can be 
known only by those on the inside. Or if not a 
truth — since facts are facts — then a mt)ral sig- 
nificance for these facts that only an insider 
can fully appreciate. The truth, if it is to be be- 
lieved, must be authored by those who have 
suffered its consequences. 

The result of five years of war is that a shared 
truth is now inconceivable. In the conditions of 
ethnic separation and authoritarian populism 
prevailing in all of the republics of the former 
Yugoslavia, a shared truth — and hence a path 
from truth to reconciliation — is barred, not just 
by hatreds but by institutions too undemocratic 
to allow countervailing truths to circulate. It is 
not undermining the war-crimes tribunal 
process to maintain that the message of its truth 
is unlikely to penetrate the bell jars of the suc- 
cessor states of the former Yugoslavia. The point 
is merely that one must keep justice separate 
from reconciliation. Justice is justice, and within 
the strict limits of what is possible, it should be 
done. Justice will also serve the interests of 
truth. But the truth will not necessarily be be- 
lieved, and it is putting tot) much faith in truth 
to believe that it can heal. All one can say is 
that leaving war crimes unpunished is worse: it 
permits societies to indulge, unop- 
-j- posed, their fantasies of denial. 


hat seems apparent in the former Yu- 
goslavia is that the past continues to torment 
because it is not past. These places are not liv- 
ing in a serial order of time but in a simultane- 
ous one, in which the past and present are a 
continuous, agglutinated mass of fantasies, dis- 
tortions, myths, and lies. Reporters in the 
Balkan wars t)ften observed that when they 
were told atrocity stories they were occasional- 


WicoLin Pinkte Maka Kin Ta Wicokunze Oyake Pelo ("They Said Treaties Shall Be the Law of the Land") , a painting on a Tiineteenth- 
century map by Francis Yellow, a Lakota artist. The painting appeared in Plains Indian Drawings 1865-1935: Pages from a Visual Histo- 
ry, published by Harry N. Abrams. A touring exhibit is also currently on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Yellow lives in Minneapolis. 

ly uncertain whether these stories had occurred 
yesterday or in 1941, or 1841, or 1441. For the 
tellers of the tale, yesterday and today were the 
same. When James Joyce had Stephen 
Daedalus say, in the opening pages of Ulysses, 
that the past was a nightmare from which he 
was struggling to awake, this is what he meant; 
as in nightmare, time past and time present 
were indistinguishable for the Irish people. 
This, it should be added, is the dreamtime of 
vengeance. Crimes can never safely be fixed in 
the historical past; they remain locked in the 
eternal present, crying out for vengeance. 

This makes the process of coming to terms 
with the past, and of being reconciled to its 
pain, much more complicated than simply sift- 
ing fact from fiction, lies from truth. It means 
working it through the inner recesses of the 
psychic system so that a .serial sense of time 
eventually replaces the nightmare of pure si- 

Nations, properly speaking, cannot he rec- 
onciled to tJther nations, only individuals to 
individuals. Nonetheless, individuals can be 
helped to heal and to reconcile by public ritu- 
als of atonement. When Chilean President 

Patricio Alwyn appeared on television to apol- 
ogize to the victims of Pinochet's repression, 
he created the public climate in which a thou- 
sand acts of private repentance and apology 
became possible. He also symbolically cleansed 
the Chilean state of its association with these 
crimes. West German Chancellor Willy 
Brandt's gesture of going down on his knees in 
the Warsaw ghetto had a similarly cathartic ef- 
fect by officially associating the German state 
with the process of atonement. These acts 
compare strikingly with the behavior of the 
political figures responsible for the war in the 
Balkans. If, instead of writing books disputing 
the numbers of people exterminated at Jaseno- 
vac during World War II, President Franjo 
Tudjman of Croatia had gone to the site of the 
most notorious of the Croatian extermination 
camps and publicly apologized for the crimes 
committed by the Croatian Ustashe against 
Serbs, Gypsies, partisan resisters, and Jews, he 
would have liberated the Croatian present 
from the hold of the Ustashe past. He also 
would have increased dramatically the chances 
of the Serbian minority accepting the legiti- 
macy oi an independent Croatian state. Had 


ho lanced the boil i)t the past, the war ot 1991 
mi^ht not have occurred. He chose not to, ot 
course, because he believed the Serbs to be 
just as guilty of crimes against the Crtnits. But 
sometimes a gesture ot atonement is ettective 
precisely because it rises above the crimes 
done to your own side. Societies and nations 
are not like individuals, but the individuals 
who have political authority within societies 
can have an enormous impact on the mysteri- 
ous process by which individuals come to 
terms with the pain of their society's past. 

The experience ot the war in Yugoslavia 
makes it difficult to conceive of reconciliation, 
it it were ever possible, in terms of "forgiving 
and forgetting," "turning the page," "putting 
the past behind us," and so on. The intractable 
ferocity and scale of the war show up the hol- 
lowness of these cliches fcir what they are. But 
reconciliation might eventually be founded on 
something starker: the democracy ot the dead, 
the equality c>f all victims, the drastic nullity ot 
all struggles that end in killing, and the 
demonstrable turility ot avenging the past in 
the present. 


[Search ResLilts] 


From Li list of headlines compi/cci last October by 
Michael Perry, usinji Excite, an Internet navifia- 
tiim service, to find news stories that ivere archived 
on Yahoo! an online guide to the Web. The head- 
lines appeared as follows. 

Yahoo! Tensions Mount in Northern Iraq 
Yahoo! Spiro Agnew Dies ot Leukemia 
Yahoo! Republicans Split Over Abortion 
Yahoo! AIDS Fear Fuels Demand tor Sex 
Yahoo! Liberian Refugees Start to Leave 
Yahoo! Man v\ith Ciun, Knife at Olympics 
Yahoo! Israeli Jets Attack Guerrillas 
Yahoo! Marijuana May Affect Embryo 
Yahoo! Heroin Found on Colombian Chief 
YahiH)! Rap Star Tupac Shakiir Shot 
Yahoo! Clinton Backs Molester Listing 
Yahoo! Dick Morris Still Giving Advice 
Yahoo! Dry Salami Can Carry Bacteria 



From an annotation by ]im Naureckas , in the Sep- 
tember/October 1996 issue o/ EXTRA! published 
by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, in New York 
City. Naureckas noted ei'cnt.s that were omitted in 
"A Trad of Rubble: Mideast arid Bombings," a 
timeline that accompanied an article in the June 27, 
1996, New York Times about the terrorist bomb- 
ing of a U.S. military compound in Saudi Arabia. 
The Times'.s original chnmolo^y is in Roman type 
below; hlaureckas's additions are italicized. 

Beirut, April 1983 

Muslim fundamentalist suicide bomber wrecks 

U.S. Embassy, killing 63 people, including 16 


Lebanon, September 1983 

The USS New Jersey shells mmmilitary targets, 

killing hundreds of civilians . 

Beirut, October 1983 

Shiite Muslim suicide bombers kill 241 U.S. 
servicemen and 58 French paratroopers in at- 
tacks on military bases ot a multinational force. 

Beirut, September 1984 

Explosives-laden station wagon explodes in 

front ot U.S. Embassy annex, killing 1 1 people. 

Lebanon, March 1985 

A car bombing aimed at a Lebanese faction leader 
fads to kill Its target but kills more than 80 by- 
standers. According to Bob Woodward's Veil, the 
bombing was arranged by CIA Director William 
Casey and carried out by Saudi agents. 

Paris, 1985-86 

Bombings kill 1 3 people and injure 250. Group 

demanding release of Lebanese guerrillas takes 


Berlin, April 1986 

Bomb at nightclub popular with off-duty U.S. 
soldiers kills 2 U.S. servicemen and injures 
200. The United States blames Libya. 

Libya, Aprd 1986 

Bombing by U .S. warplanes results in the death of 

37 cixnlians, includiiig Muammar Qaddafi's infant 


Persian Gulf, July 1988 

The USS Vincennes shoots down an Irariian pas- 
senger plane flying a scheduled route, killing all 
290 people aboard, in what President Ronald Rea- 
gan called a "proper defensive action." 

Lockerbie, Scotland, December 1988 
Pan Am Flight 103 blows up over Lockerbie, 
killing 270 people. The U.S. and Britain later 
accuse two Libyans ot responsibility. 

Is HARPhK'^ MA(~.A/INE/ MARCH 1^7 

"The Priestess of Ohaluwaye Shrine," from Kings, Chiets, Women of Power, Nigeria, a series of 
portraits by Phyllis Galembo. The photographs will be on display next year at the American Muse- 
um of Natural History in New York City. Galembo lives in New York City. 

Niger, September 1989 

DC' 10 of the French airline UTA blows up 
over Sahara while on a flight to Paris, killing 
171 people. France blames Libyan agents. 

Iraq , fanuary-February 1 99 J 

The U.S. drops 250,000 bombs during the Gulf 

War, resulting in thousands of civilian deaths. 

Iraq, January J 993 

The U.S. launches a cruise-missile attack against 
Iraq to punish the ccjuntry for flying planes over its 
own territory. Civilian targets are hit, including 
Baghdad's al-Rashid Hotel. 

New York, February 1993 

Six people killed and more than 1,000 injured 
in bombing at the World Trade Center. Four 
followers of an Egyptian fundamentalist leader. 
Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman, are convicted. 
The sheik and 12 supporters are found guilty of 
plotting to blow up other U.S. targets and to 
assassinate political leaders. 

Baghdad, June 1993 

The U .S. launches a missile attack agamst the city 

in response to an alleged Iraqi assassination plot 

against former President Bush. The evidence for 
such a plot turns out to be dubious. The attack kills 
at least 5 civilians, including Leila al- Attar, one of 
Iraq's best-known artists. 

Lebanon, July 1993 

Israel launches a major bombing campaigri in what 
Israeli officials acknowledged was a "campaign to 
reduce dozens of villages and towris to heaps of 
rubble, creating an uninhabited area." 

Cairo, 1993-94 

Muslim militants begin a series of bomb at- 
tacks, many directed against Western tourists, 
in a campaign that has so far claimed 920 lives, 
including 26 tourists. 

Paris, July-October 1995 

Eight bombings in France, claimed by guerrillas 
of the Armed Islamic Group fighting to over- 
throw the Algiers government, kill 7 and in- 
jure 160. 

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 1995 
Five Americans and 2 Indians are killed and 60 
injured in explosion at a car park near a U.S.- 
run military training center. In May 1996, four 


Saudi Muslim tundamentalists are beheaded af- 
rer heinjj; convicted in the attack. 

Lebanon, April 1996 

An Israeli artillery barrage on a U.N. compound 

kills more than 1 00 civilians . 

L^haran. Saudi Arabia, June 25, 1996 

Truck bumb kills 19 Americans and injures 

400 people of various nationalities at a military 





From an iiuernal memorandum sent last April to 
the writing staff of The Tick, a Saturday -morning 
cartoon on the Fox-TV Network, by Linda Shima- 
Tsuno, the policy editor of the network's Broadcast 
Standards and Practices Department. The staff 
had submitted to the department an outline of a 
script for a proposed episode entitled "The Tick vs. 
Continuing Education" ; after receiving the memo, 
the writers abandoried the script. 


his is to confirm that 1 have received and 
read the latest outline of the episode and have 
the following comments: 

It will not be acceptable to have this story 
revolve around a Unabomber-type villain. 

In the last outline, there was only one explo- 
sion. It happened at the end of the story, un- 
derwater, and caused no serious damage. Now 
the entire story is built around the explosion of 
bombs. Either the villain and his method of op- 
eration need to be changed entirely or the 
types ot devices he uses need to be presented 
more ui the realm of fantasy. Their effects can 
still be 1) releasing a deluge of suds in the gro- 
cery store, 2) melting the car, or 3) freezing the 
Tick and [his sidekick] Arthur, but they must 
not be referred to as "bombs," and the villain 
must not be referred to as an "Evil Bomber." 

Page 1: It will not be acceptable for the 
Four-Legged Man to be the victim ot a car- 
bombing explosion at the Burger Bucket. 

Page 2: It will not be acceptable for the 
Four-Leggeil Man to be seriously injured with 
"two splinted legs ... a neck brace and a head 
bandage." He may be prevented from teaching 
his class due to some minor injury, or tor anoth- 
er reason, such as a cimimon ctild or tlu or car 

Page 4: It will not be acceptable for the vil- 
lain to be "busy cutting wires, building bombs," 
or saying, "I am the Evil Bomber, What Bombs 

at Midnight." He may, however, be portrayed 
as a mad scientist working on his inventions. 

Page 8: Please change the contents of the 
"shopping cart full of bombs" to soap boxes or 
something that does not look like a bomb. 

Page 9: The store can till up with soap suds, 
but please show that the people in the store es- 
cape unharmed. They can float out the front 
doors or some such. 

Page 10: Make sure that when the supermar- 
ket event is covered on the TV news, the re- 
porter does not refer to "bombs" or an "explo- 

Page 11: The villain's line relating to his in- 
tention to blow up the pharmacy "to smith- 
ereens, baby" is unacceptable. However, if all 
direct bombing elements are removed from the 
script, this line may remain as a figure of 

Please substitute the label on the bag that 
reads "Heat Bombs" with something like "Heat 

Page 13: It will not be acceptable for the vil- 
lain to say, "There is a bomb on the bus. So I 
says the bus goes boom, baby." 

Page 15: The devices put on the villain's car 
must be of a fantasy type — something that 
doesn't result in a harmful explosion. It will 
not be acceptable for the car to "explode" with 
the villain still inside it, or tor us to see the 
"charred remains." 



From the transcript of Pennel Phlander Irwin v. 
Commissioner of Internal Revenue, a trial held 
in January 1996 at the United States Tax Court 
in San Francisco. The IRS charged that Irwin, 
who is the author of five unpublished novels, 
including Forever Three Friday, Great Woods 
Poppy, and Positively People, had taken improp- 
er deductions for business expenses on his federal 
income-tax forms for 1990, 1991, and 1992. 
Last October, Judge Peter J . Panuthos ruled that 
Invin had "not met his burden of proof" in defense 
of the deductions . 

THE COURT: Mr. Irwin, please explain your re- 
search expenses. 

PENNEL PHLANDER IRWIN: Materials for research 
are items I am purchasing so that I can re- 
search their use and then relay that in liter- 
ary form in my books. Interview research ex- 
penses are incurred when I am trying to gain 
information on different types of subject 
matter. For instance, Scott Keithley is listed 

:0 HARPHirSMACiAZiNE/M.ARt.'H iw? 



-«''!K«s®?^/%^;;^^rP -^ 

The Glenlivet Siiigle IVJaltv O^HB^cpvered, always treasured. 

1996 Imported by The Glenlivet Distilling Co^fi v.; r^y,ri2-year-0ld&hgte''()ijaft '.Scotch Vi/liisky, Alc- 40% by Vol, (80 proo 

Ldu, by Mel Leipzig,, a Trenton, New jersey, artist. Leipzig's paintings were on display last November at Gallery 
Henoch in New York City. 

under inter\'ievv research materials. Scutt 
Keithley happens to he a dentist, and I was 
gettinfi intormation on dental hygiene and 
dental practices, which I learned ahout first- 

THE (X^URT: Was he your dentist.' 

IRWIN: Scott Keithley.' Yes. So, part of the ser- 
vice I'm paying tor — 

THE COURT: What was the fifteen dollars for? 
What did Scott Keithley do tor you? Did he 
clean your teeth? 

IRWIN: For the fifteen dollars? 


IRWIN: Okay, well, when I'm payin,^ ti)r a ser- 
\'ice, 1 prefer — 1 pay hoth tor the physical 
service as well as tor the informatitin that 
person provides. The fifteen dollars, gee:, 
right offhand, 1 can't rememher it that was 
tor cleaning services or what, hut part of that 
was the intormation that he was prt)viding, 
which went into my writing. 

THE CC^URT: Okay. How ahout education ex- 

IRWIN: For 1990, the mam part of the educa- 
tion expenses in\'olveLl renting a dormitory 
space for my research assistant. In the course 
of my research 1 reali:ed 1 woukl love to fm^l 

out what dormitory experiences were like in 
California. So my daughter agreed to move 
into a dormitory at Califc:)rnia State Univer- 
sity, Sacramento. 1 paid for the dormitory, 
hoth to get her in there and so I would have 
direct access to dormitory life and she could 
also, hy living there, report hack to me her 
impressions ahout dormitory living. 


IRWIN: Because it was not necessarily required 
tor her education that she live in the dormi- 

THE COURT: Okay. How ahout supplies? It looks 
like these were disallowed hy the tax com- 
mi,ssioner in full tor all three years — 1990, 
1991, and 1992. And in 1991 and 1992, it 
looks like they went up suhstantially. 

IRWIN: Uh-hmm. Yes. Okay. supplies ba- 
sically tell under material research expenses. 
Yeah, basically that and reference research 

THE c:(.iURT: So, many of these expenses relate 
to the purchase of books? For example, 
"Costco: novel writing research materials," 
or "Macy's: novel writing research materi- 
als." What — what does that mean? 

IRWIN: Ah, they, hmm. They could be any 


number of items that I would need to take 
and research as far as how a product is used. 
It could be clothing for costuming. 

THE COURT: The court's not really clear. What 
is it that you purchased.' Did you purchase 
an item, a commodity, a piece of clothing, 
and then write about it? 

IRWIN: Oh. You mean as in — 

THE COURT: What did you get? What did you 
physically get for $148.17 on February 9, 
1990, at Costco? 

IRWIN: Okay. It can involve any number of ma- 
terials that 1 would be purchasing at Costco. 
It could be clothes, it could be tools, it could 
be fixtures, anything that I'm using that I 
need to research as far as how that materi- 

THE COURT: So you buy a kitchen chair. That 
would be listed as a research material? 

IRWIN: If I'm using it in the research toward 
one of my writing projects, yes. Anything, 
basically, that I purchase is being used for my 

THE COURT: So on April 19, 1990, when you 
buy something at Lockeford County Flower, 
do you think you, for $42.50, do you think 
you bought flowers? 

IRWIN: Physically, I probably did. However, 
what 1 am purchasing is an item I can re- 

THE COURT: So you buy flowers and then you 
write about the flowers? You write about pur- 
chasing the flowers? What do you write 

IRWIN: No, the — the type of flower arrange- 
ment 1 purchase would go into one of my 
works in progress, in the description of a 
table setting, or in the description of a kind 
of flower arrangement that might be given o^ 
received. Unless you have — unless you can 
obtain the object, you can't very well do re- 
search on it, as far as the colors, the textures, 
what you use that object for. 

THE COURT: What did you do with the flowers 
after you used them? Did you throw them 

IRWIN: I would presume so, yes, because that 
would be an expendable item that — they on- 
ly last for so long. 

THE COURT: Okay. Mr. Irwin, do you agree with 
the tax commissioner's adjustment ot $1,421 
from your Schedule C for 1991? The com- 
missioner says that that was not self-employ- 
ment income hut rather it was a gambling 

IRWIN: Whew. 1 — you know, 1 concur with — 
with the logic, and the commissioner's trying 
to be helpful. The only pmblem that 1 have 
is, when I look at it, it was during a research 
trip to Reno, and 1 went in and researched 

what gambling on video-poker machines was 
like, since that was sort of unique, and 1 hap- 
pened to make a winning. And 1 figured that 
since 1 made the winning while 1 was doing 
research for writing, I should take it as writ- 
ing income. 


IRWIN: I was just trying to put it in the right 



From "Central Bankism," by Edward Luttwak, in 
the November 14, 1996, issue of the London Re- 
view of Books. Luttwak is a senior fellow at the 
Center for Strategic and International Studies in 
Washington. His essay "The Middle-Class Back- 
lash" appeared in the January J 996 issue o/ Harp- 
er's Magazine. 


fanatical religion has swept the United 
States and Europe in recent years: central 
bankism. Its high priests. Federal Reserve 
Chairman Alan Greenspan and his European 
counterparts, believe in a devil and are dedicat- 
ed to the struggle against it — in this case, infla- 
tion. Common sense suffices to oppose high in- 
flation and to fear hyperinflation as the death of 
currencies, but it takes the absolute faith of reli- 
gion to refuse even very moderate inflation at 
the cost of immoderate unemployment and eco- 
nomic stagnation, as the Europeans have been 
doing, or at the cost of slow economic growth 
for years on end, as in the United States. 

Like many religions, central bai^ikism has its 
sanctuaries, and these inspire as much awe as 
any great cathedral — from the majestic Bank of 
England to the Greek temples of the Federal 
Reserve in Washington, from the solidity of 
the Banque de France to the massive moderni- 
ty of Germany's Bundesbank. In these sanctu- 
aries the pontiffs constantly strive to assert 
their independence from secular politicians, 
mere mortals voted in and out of office by the 
ignorant masses. Although, like other public 
officials, they receive their salaries from the 
taxpayers, central bankers claim the right to ig- 
nore the public will. They invariably remain in 
c^ffice for terms of papal length often prema- 
turely renewed for fear of disturbing financial 
markets. And when these high priests do at last 
retire, they are frequently elevated to financial 


sainrhoiKl, rheir every fleering opinion reveren- 
tially treasured, their caiulidacy tor any posi- 
tKui ot six-cial trust eagerly accepted, their very 
names talisinanic, as with PaLil Volcker on 
Wall Street and tar heyond. 

Because their power deri\es largely froin 
their supreme command ot the crusade against 
the devil ot inflation, central hankers naturally 
see his insidious presence everywhere. Very of- 
ten, they detect "disturhing signs of incipient 
inflation," or even "alarming warnings of 
mounting inflationary pressure" in iiutput, em- 
ployment, and wage statistics that many re- 
spected economists view with equanimity or 
find downright reassuring. True, every time new 
statistical indicators are puhlished, there are 
calls from some quarters for slightly lower inter- 
est rates to achieve a hit more growth, hut such 
outhreaks of heresy are easily quashed 

Shy the high priests, 
imple, definitive proof ot the doctriiial su- 
premacy of central bankism can be found in the 
fact that any pt)licy initiative hraiided as "infla- 
tionary" is usually rejected out of hand. By con- 
trast, the term "deflationary" has no resonance at 
all. Although it is occasionally used as a purely 
technical term to express falling prices, deflation 
might more properly be used to describe what 
the central hankers have given us: overrestrictive 

[Executix'c I'lri.ler] 


From a memo dismhuted thronf^hoiit the Kremlin 
List Ucti)her hy the office of President Boris Yeltsm. 
Translated frt >m the Russian hy Sarah Brmcn. 

HI: All Oepartments in the Administration of 
the Presklent ot the Ri.issian Federation 

Respected Chiefs! 

Often original docimients — i.e., letters fr(.)m 
Boris Nikolaiovich Yeltsin, his decrees, arid his 
orders — are joined together hy your workers 
with staples. This makes it difficult for the Pres- 
ident. In tact, this practice holds up the Presi- 
dent's \'ery decisions. We ask that you heed this 
request to stop the use ot staples. 

R. Sivulev 

Aide to the President 

hscal and monetary policies that strangle growth, 
policies that in the 1930s brought about the 
Great L\>pression, pc^litical chaos, dictatorship, 
and war. Inflatiini hits the instrument of money 
while deflation has an immediate impact on 
people, denying them the opportunity to work 
and earn, and to buy goods and services, which 
would allow others to work and earn. Indeed, in 
the United States central bankism has resulted 
in falling real wages; although unemployment at 
the end (.if 1996 remained at 5.3 percent, more 
than half of all American jobs pay less now in 
constant dollars than they did twenty years ago. 
No wonder, as President Clinton keeps boasting, 
millions of new jobs keep being created (a quar- 
ter of a milliori were created last December 
alone): American labor is so cheap. 

Ot course, it is true that real incomes and 
real wealth canmit be created by printing mon- 
ey, that inflation hurts the poor disproportion- 
ately as well as rich bondholders and everyone 
who lives on a fixed income. Inflation benefits 
smart speculators and all who are already 
wealthy enough to own real estate and other 
marketable assets. It is also true that, if 
unchecked, inflation naturally accelerates into 
hyperinflation, which not only destroys curren- 
cies but also degrades economic efficiency — as 
people run to spend their suitcases full of baiik 
notes instead of working — and may even wreck 
the entire financial structure of a society. 

Inflation, then, is bad; and hyperinflation, 
very bad indeed. But it is just as true that defla- 
tion is bad and that hyperdeflation is disas- 
trous. In economic theory, deflation should 
have no consequences at all, because any up- 
ward movement in the value of money (i.e., 
falling prices) can be nullified by a cmTipensat- 
ing reduction in wages. In practice, however, 
prices resist going diiwn, and very few employ- 
ees anywhere at any time accept wage cuts 
withiiut the most hitter resistance — even in 
the United States, with its mass immigration, 
increasingly unfavorable labor market, and 
weak unions. Contrary to theory, theii, defla- 
tion starves economies; with deflation, more- 
over, people feel poorer and spenel less simply 
because the nominal value ot their houses and 
other assets is falling. Inflation and deflation 
should therefore be viewed as equally objec- 
tionable; they shoLild resoLind in our ears as 
equi\'alent e\'ils, like flood and dri)ught. It is the 
greatest triumph ot central bankism 
that only inflation is viewed as sinful. 


. ow did the ascendance of the central 
bankers come about? How did the employees of 
one public institution assume a priestly status, 
bec<Mning more powerful in many ways than 
I'irime ministers or presidents? One heard very 

I lARTHR'S MAi ./\Z1N'E / M.AiU 'H 1^W7 

iFrom Collectne Memory I, a sc'iiei o/ pimts /i\ Andiexi Buniuin liiDLatL t/u sc'iics, Boiduin UhiL PDlaioul liha- 
tographs, used a computer to enkiige the imageb, and then leproduced them on watercolor papei with an his mk jet 
printer. The series was on display last month at On View . . . ,a gallery in New York City. 

little about them in the three postwar decades 
of rapid economic growth, sharply rising in- 
comes, and widening prosperity. Only during 
the Thirties, not coincidentally the years of the 
Great Depression, were they as prominent as 
they are now. A world in crisis followed with 
bated breath every pronouncement from the 
lips of the Bank of England's Montagu Nor- 
man, Germany's Hjalmar Schacht, and their 
lesser colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic. 
With tragic consequences tor millions of 
American families, and tar more terrible reper- 
cussions in Europe, governments almost every- 
where accepted the central bankers' remedy lor 
the Depression, which was to deflate, detlate, 
deflate, by cutting public spending and restrict- 
ing credit. One result was that Hitler's rise to 
power was accelerated by unemployment. 
We now know that the central hankers were 
completely wrong. The only way tt) retloat the 
sinking economies of the Thirties was to start 
the chain reaction of demand by sharply in- 
creasing government spending, and never mind 
a bit of inflation. Had the hig boys of the world 

economy led the way, by inflating and by im- 
porting first, to generate more demand for their 
own exports, everyone would have come out 
just fine. But only a tew adventurous souls, and 
only one reputable economist, John Maynard 
Keynes, dared to contradict what seemed to be 
common sense, and even they were hesitant. 
The central bankers, by contrast, were utterly 
certain that they were right, just as they are 
now; and they gave exactly the same advice 
that they are giving now, the only advice cen- 
tral bankers ever give: tighten credit, restrict 
spending, hold hack demand. 

Another reason tor the rise ot central 
bankism as the prevailing wisdom ot the age is 
institutional: while the value ot money is pro- 
tected with tierce determination by the central 
bankers, industry and labor have no such exalt- 
ed detenders, only mere governments and par- 
liaments now greatly inhibited by 
the decrees ot central bankism. 

l_-^ike all religions, central bankism de- 
mands sacrifices trom the taithtul. Catholics, 


Jews, and Muslims ha\-e it rarhcr easy by com- 
parison: ccnrral hankism resembles the Aztec 
tairh in irs dem.mJs tor human sacrifice. So tar, 
\vc ha\e yet to see central bankers climb pyra- 
uuJs to cut out the palpitating hearts of young 
men arid virgins with obsidian knives, but not a 
single one oi them hesitates to impt)se le\els ot 
unemployment that year after year deprive mil- 
licMis oi young people of the opportunity e\en 
to start a career. Indeed, the central bankers 
have all the moral certitude ot the Aztec 
priests. Gathered together last August with 
their host Alan Greenspan, in Jackson Hole, 
Wyoming, the central baiikers congratulated 
themselves at length on their success in reduc- 
ing inflation by keeping real interest rates high; 
they did not pause to depkire miserable growth 
rates. As it is, the estimated 1996 growth rates 
tor the G7 countries (the United States, Cana- 
da, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan) 
average out at 1.8 percent, which guarantees 
rising unemployment simply because both the 
size of the labor force and its productivity are 
increasing somewhat faster. Still, in Jackson 
Hole the central bankers competed tor the prize 
ot calling tor the lowest inflation rate. 

France was the surprise winner ot this defla- 
tion Olympics. Untroubled by an economy not 
merely stagnant but in rigor mortis, with a lev- 
el ot unemployment — above 12 percent — un- 
seen since the Great Depression, the French 
were enormously proud oi their amazingly low 
1.3 percent inflation rate, a full 0.2 percent be- 
low Germany's! It was as if the defeats of 1870 
and 1940 had been undone. 

Indeed, there was heady talk of ascending to 
the paradise ot central bankism: a zero inflation 
rate. It would only be a matter oi eliminating 
budget deficits by scrapping more welfare pro- 
grams, and ot maintaining interest-rate disci- 
pline, orders easily handed down from the mag- 
nificent heights of Jackson Hole to the \-ulgar 
crowd of Eurcipe's 18 million unempKiyed. 

As for Alan Greenspan, he has nothing what- 
seiever to worry about, because in the United 
States, slow grtnvth (just over 2 percent annual- 
ly), a 5 percent unemployment rate, anel falling 
wages are all now accepted as perfectly normal, 
or even as good news. The ^tage has been 
reached in which any spurt ot taster growth, any 
fall in unemployment, is very bad news indeed 
for Wall Street and tor all of us, because it will 
only lead the Feeleral Reserxe to increase inter- 
est rates m or^ler to "cool ^lown the economy." 

In tact, nobody knows the exact rate ot unem- 
ployment below which wages start rising, push- 
ing prices Lipward. Economists continue to i.le- 
bale the issue, but the Fed takes no chances. 
Greenspan inx'ariably ens on the siele of caution: 
a million peo|ile c;in lose their jobs because 

higher interest rates might, perhaps, keep infla- 
tion at one-tenth of one percent below what it 
might ha\e been. In the name of the holy strug- 
gle against inflation, the central hinkers decree, 
the public must sacrifice. 



From "A Statistical Association Between Liberal 
Body Hair Growth and Intelligence," a study by 
Dr. A. G. Alios. Alias, a psychiatrist at the Chester 
Mental Health Center in Chester, Illinois, read the 
paper last July in London at the Eighth Congress of 
the Association of European Psychiatrists. 


ince liberal body hair appears to he a char- 
acteristic of lower forms of primates, such as 
apes, people have an instinctual aversion to 
the idea that hairy men may be smarter than 
thcise who are relatively hairless. 

That there is an association between 
chest/body-hair growth (including beard growth) 
and general intelligence struck me in 1973 when 
1 met a very hirsute African-American psychia- 
trist. It occurred to me that while this man was 
quite hairy, the famous black boxers of the time 
were not. 1 discussed this idea with him, it 
caught his fancy, and he gave me some data that 
reinforced my initial impressitm. Since then, I 
have checked and rechecked many samples, and 
1 have discovered a definite pattern. 

1. A sample composed ot male members of 
the American Mensa society (who have very 
high IQs) yielded significantly higher body-hair 
ratings than those trtmi two control samples of 
Caucasian men. On a scale ot I to 9, about 50 
percent of the Mensa men had body-hair rat- 
ings higher than 5, whereas only 31 percent 
and 28 percent ot the two control samples had 
similarly high ratings. 

2. Thirty-five percent of male U.S. National 
Academy of Sciences members had body-hair 
ratings of 6 or higher, compared with 2 1 per- 
cent and 19.4 percent iif two control groLips 
taken from the general population. 

V Body-hair ratings ot 6 or higher were not- 
etl in 42 percent ot a griuip of 103 South Indi- 
an male medical students, compared with 12 
percent of 101 South Indian manual laborers. 

4- Only one of the fifteen (6.6 percent) Cau- 
casian heavyweight boxing champions ot the 
past one hundred years had a body-hair rating 
higher than 5. 

-6 I l.-M II K'S MACA/INB / MARCH 1997 

From the photographs illustrating balloon-tivisting tricks in various books by balloon artist Aaron Hsu-Flanders. Step I of "Pig/ Hippopotamus" 
(left) and Step W of "Snail" (center) are from Hiu-Flander' s hook More Balloon Animals. Step 22 of "Winnie the Pooh" (right) is from 
Balloon Cartoons and Other Favorites. Hm-Flanders lives in Cambridge , Massachusetts. 

5. Among thirty Caucasian bodybuilders, the 
fourteen with sixteen or more years of educa- 
tion were significantly more hirsute than the 
sixteen with twelve years of education. 

What my findings show is that if a man is 
very hirsute, the chances are high that he 
will be above average in intelligence. My 
findings, however, do not prove that the 
hairier you are the smarter you will he. I have 
come across many coiifirmed mentally retard- 
ed black and white men who are ct)nspicu- 
ously hirsute. 

Some anecdotal examples: Albert Einsteiii 
was (body) hairless, as are Bill Gates (proba- 
bly), Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan. John F. 
Kennedy was notably hirsute but far less so 
than his brothers, Bobby and Ted. George 
Bush had only a few hairs on his chest. Robin 
Williams, whose brain works almost like a su- 
percomputer, is markedly hirsute, and Peter 
Sellers was still more apelike. Chess champion 
Gary Kasparov is very hirsute, and so is his In- 
dian rival Viswanathan Anand, but Anatoly 
Karpov is probably smooth-skinned. 

Lastly, 1 came across a pair of fraternal twins 
in a colleague's high school yearbook. Accord- 
ing to the descriptions that accompanied their 
pictures, one of the brothers, who was not con- 
spicuously hirsute, was athletic but his academ- 
ic achievements were rather modest. The other 
brother, "Fuzzy," was valedictt)rian, class presi- 
dent, and had won several academic awards. 



From a ranking of "styles of everyday humorous 
conduct" developed by Kenneth H. Craik et al. 
The researchers asked a group of university stu- 
dents to rate the behavior traits below on a scale of 
1 to 9, with 9 being "extremely desirable" and I 
being "extremely undesirable ." The study appeared 
in the Fall J 996 issue of Humor: International 
Journal of Humor Research, published by Moti- 
ton de Gruyter in Berlin. 



Appreciates the humorous potential of 

persons and situations 8.3 

Displays a quick wit and a ready repartee 7.8 
Uses good-natured jests to put others at 

ease 7.6 

Has an infectious laugh that starts others 

laughing 7.5 

Finds intellectual wordplay enjoyable 7.1 

Prefers recounting comic episodes from 

real life to telling jokes 6.5 

Enjoys kidding, ribbing, and joshing others 6.1 
Uses humor to gain the affection and 

approval of others 5.8 

Jokes about probleins to make them seem 

ridiculous or trivial 5.7 


Finds himior in rhc cveryJay bchavinr ot 

animals 5.2 

Imitates rhc humorous style nt a 

professional comedian 5.2 

Reveals otherwise unacknowledi^ed 

motives through humorous hehavior 5.2 

Enjoys limericks and nonsense rhymes 4.*-^ 

Makes jokes abiiut the macahre .uid the 

grotescjue 4-5 

Is droll 4.5 

Has a reputation as a practical joker 4-5 

Laughs without discriminating between 

more and less clever remarks 44 

Einphasizes the humor of an anecdote 

with nudges and other gestures 4.3 

Has a suggestive, insinuating laugh 4.^5 

Tells bawdy stt)ries with gustt), regardless 

ot audience 4.2 

By smiling at certain points in discussions, 

focuses attention on awkwartl, 

embarrassing, or hidden issues 4-1 

Does not hesitate to repeat a remark that 

was not duly appreciated 3.9 

Relishes scatological anecdotes 

(bathroom humor) 3.6 

Jokes about others' imperfections 3.5 

Takes special delight in ethnic jokes 3.5 

Spoils jokes by laughing before finishing 

them 3.5 

Insists on explaining jokes after telling 

them 2.5 



From A Place oi My Own: The Education of an 
Amateur Builder, hy Michael Pollan, to be Imh- 
lished this mouth hy Randmn House. PolLvi is Edi- 
tor-at'Larne of Harper's Magazine. 


look at a vvini.low long ciiiHigh, and you 
begin to see that it is not only a material object 
but the embodiment ot a relationship — be- 
tween the self on one siLle of the glass antl the 
wkler world on the other. Whenever a wini^low 
looks out on the street, it tells a story about the 
social workl we inhabit; v\'hen its gaze is on the 
landscape, it usually has something to say about 
our relationships to nature. 

When I was a boy m\' jiarents built a sLimmer 
home on the beach that was designed in thrall 
to the modernist dream of transparency, ani.1 
speciheally to the Utopian prnmiNe of plate glass: 
the elimination of the b.irriers rh;it wall us oft 

from nature. The house was a modihed A-frame 
bLiilt on the open plan, with its kitchen, living 
room, and dining area all flowing together. The 
facade of the house was almost entirely glazed: a 
picture window dominated one side, sliding 
glass doors the other, and, above, vertical plates 
of rose all fhe way up into the tall peak. 
Except for the slightest structural reinforce- 
ment, the glass was undivided: there were few 
things as architecturally unfashionable in 1965 
as a muntin bar on a window. 

A half-dozen other houses were similarly de- 
l^loyed along our strip ot sand dune, and to- 
gether they resembled a flock of weathered gray 
birds perched on a wire, all staring intently at 
the t)cean ahead, iione risking a sidelong 
glance. Indeed, our house had only a couple of 
windows on its side walls, and these were of the 
cheapest construction, strictly for ventilation. 
It was the big view that my parents had 
bought, and it was the big view and nothing 
else that our house was going to stare at. 

One thing that struck me about our glass wall 
and its hundred-dollar view (aside from the fict 
that the living room was always too hot and you 
never entered it unless fully dressed, even 
though the only creature apt to look in was a 
gull) was that the ocean was best appreciated 
from the couch, as it you were watching a movie 
screen, which the proportions of the picture 
window closely approximated. It must be a con- 
vention of our visual culture that an image of 
roughly proportions says. Look no further: 
here's the whok {picture, I can't remember 
ever feeling the urge to get up from the couch 
and take a closer look. A smaller t)r squarer win- 
dow, on the other hand, seems to invite us to 
step up to it and peek out, to glimpse what lies 
beyond the frame on either side. 

My parents' view alsi) acciuainted me with 
the peculiar distancing effect of plate glass. 
Ours was double-glazed — the technology that 
made glass walls feasible, if not quite practi- 
cal — and unless the sliding glass door had been 
left ajar, the seal of the wall was complete. You 
saw the waves break white out beyond the 
dunes but hean.1 nothing; w;itched the sea grass 
bend and flash under the breeze but felt noth- 
ing. There was a deadness to it, a quality of 
having already happened. The view seemed far 
away, static, and inaccessible, except of course 
to the eye. 

Our picture window's horizontal format 
probably contributed to this impression. As 
paii"iters understand, the horizontal dimension 
is the eye's natural field ot play, the axis along 
which it ordinarily takes in the world. CJom- 
pared with a vertical format, which is more 
likely to engage the whole body, uniting the 
viewer into the picture as if through a tloor, the 

2s ll\Kri:K'SMAH.-\/iNH/MAlU-|l ]^»'>7 

horizontal somehow seems cooler, Jisemhixl- 
ied, more cerebral. 

Only much later did 1 understand that my 
parents' picture window contained its own im- 
plicit philosophy of nature, and it is perhaps 
not quite so benign a one as its air of sheer ap- 
preciativeness might have suggested. Granted, 
compared with the attitude of fear or antago- 
nism toward the outdoors implied by the tiny 
windows you find on, say, an old colonial, the 
modern picture window tells a considerably 
friendlier story about nature, which it puts on a 
kind of pedestal. Yet like anything installed on 
a pedestal, nature in the picture window is held 
at arm's length, regarded as an aesthetic object. 
As its name implies, the picture window turns 
the stuff of nature into a landscape, the very 
idea of which implies separation and observa- 
tion and passivity — nature as spectator sport, 
which suited my father the great 
indoorsman just fine. 


ut exactly what kind of landscape.' For 
the picture window doesn't make a picture out 
of any old stretch of nature. Nobody ever 
placed one directly in front of a forest or the 
face of a boulder, and my parents never 
thought to put theirs on the wall that faced a 
grove of gnarled heetlebung trees, lovely as 
that was. No, a picture window must give the 
horizon its due, and the content of the view 
will always be something special, by which we 
usually mean "picturesque." 

Implied in the very idea of a picture window 
is an assumption that there is a "special" nature 
entitled to our gaze and care, and an ordinary 
nature that is not. In this, the picture window 
is in tune ideologically with tourism and envi- 
ronmentalism, both of which lavish their at- 
tention on those landscapes that most nearly 
resemble wilderness — places unpeopled, tinae- 
less, and pristine; nature "out there" — at the 
expense of all those ordinary places where most 
of us live and work, and which often need just 
as much ot our attention and care. 

The picture window also tells a more subtle 
and insidious story about point of view, about 
the idea of a frame. By eliminating mnntins 
(which call attention to the window as a win- 
dow) and stretching out horizontally to the pe- 
ripheries of our field ni vision, the picture win- 
dow suggests that its view of nature is perfectly 
objective and unmediated: Thh is it, hnw it real- 
ly is out there. And the full-scale glass wall goes 
even iLirther, dropping the "out there" from the 
claim, since now any distance between our- 
selves and nature has supposedly been elimi- 
nated. If the picture window resembles a pair of so large the wearer loses sight of the 
frame, the glass house is a pair "i contact lens- 








Cloudy Day 



From Remarks (in Color, a series nf paintm^s liy Peter 
Wegner, a Portland, Oregon, artist. Wegner uses the 
aetiial colors, names, and eude numbers of the standard 
system used by hardware stores for mixirig paints. His 
work is currently on display at the Cleveland Center for 
Conternporary Art. 


es. Tlie cunct'it ot its niorc radical transparciicy 
is that rho traine can he oliminared alui}:icthcr, 
lca\ in'4 lis wirh a perfect apprehension iit na- 
ture, a clear seein)ii with nothing interposed 
save this inctinsequential pane ot fj;lass — whose 
own reality everything h;is heen done to sii[v 
press. Could it he that one of the reasons pic- 
ture windows seem so dated today is that we've 
learned to distrust any such claims to omni- 
science and ohjectivity? 

But perhaps the tallest, and most thoroughly 
discredited, tale told hy plate glass is of man's 
power and nature's henignity. The promise of 
modernity was that we could master nature 
with our technology and science, arul what 
hetter way to express that mastery — flaunt it, 
eveti — than huilding walls and houses made of 
glass? Humankind has outgrown the need for 
shelter from nature, the glass wall declares; 
refuge can now give way to pure prospect. E\'en 
as a child, I was made aware of the ahsurdity of 
this particular conceit every time the weather 
hureau issued a hurricane warning tor our 
stretch o( Atlantic seahoard. My father and I 
would scamper up ladders to crisscross the great 
glass wall with wehs ot masking tape. The tape 
was supposed to help the glass withstand the 
gales, and these flimsy paper muntins did st)me- 
how make us feel marginally safer as the wind 
hlew. After a few years of hurricane alerts, 
however, the glass wall and its hig view had 
heen scarred hy the fossilized traces ot yellow- 
ing tape glue — a fitting rehuke to the dream ot 
a perfect transparency. 



From an anecdote hy Graham Nash that ivas pi^st- 
cd last May on HyperRnst, a Weh site devoted to 
Neil Yoi«i|j. The story jirst apfieared in a booklet 
that accompanied CSN, a 1991 set of jimr com- 
l)act discs hy Crosby, Stills & Nash. 


once went down to Neil's ranch, am.! he 
rovve^l me our to the mRklle ot the lake. Then 
he waved at .someone in\'isihle, and music start- 
ed to play from the countryside. I realized Neil 
had his house wired as the left speaker and his 
ham wired as the right speaker. And from the 
shore Elliot Mazer, his engineer, shouted, "How 
is it.'" And Neil shouted hack, "More harn!" 


From "C-hc; Lambert," by }(maihan franzen, in 
the Summer 1 996 i.s.sue o/ The Paris Review; the 
story is part of a novel to be published next year by 
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Franzen's essay "Per- 
chance to Dream" appeared m the April 1996 is- 
sue of Harper's Magazine. 


t's the fate ot most Ping-Pt)ng tables in 
home basements eventually to serve the ends 
of other, more desperate games. When Alfred 
retired he appropriated the eastern end of the 
table for his banking and correspondence. At 
the western end was the portable color TV on 
which he'd intended to watch the local news 
while sitting in his great blue chair but which 
was now fully engulfed by Good Housekeepings 
and the seasonal candy tins and baroque but 
cheaply made candleholders that Enid never 
quite found time to transport to the Nearly 
New consignment shop. The Ping-Pong table 
was the one field on which the civil war raged 
iipenly. At the eastern end Alfred's calculator 
was ambushed by tTiral-print pot holders and 
souvenir coasters from the Epcot Center and a 
device for pitting cherries that Enid had owned 
tor thirty years and never used; while he, in 
turn, at the western end, tor absolutely no rea- 
son that Enid ct)uld ever fathom, ripped to 
pieces a wreath made of spray-painted 
pinecones, filberts, and Brazil nuts. 

To the east of the Ping- Pong table lay the 
workshop that housed his metallurgical lab, the 
industry underpinning the seamless prosperity 
of the house above. The gray dust of evil spells 
and the enchanted cobwebs of a place that 
time had forgotten cloaked the thick insLilating 
bricks of the electrical arc furnace, the Hell- 
mann's Real Mayonnaise jars tilled with exotic 
rhodium, with sinister cadmium, with stalwart 
bismuth. Something as daily and friendly as a 
pencil still occupieel the random spot on the 
workbench where Alfred had laid it in a differ- 
ent (.lecade; the passage ot so many years im- 
bued the pencil with a kind ot enmity. 

Worse than a palace in ruins is a palace 
abandoned and decaying and untouchcLl: if it 
were ruined it cou-ld be buried. A ceramic cru- 
cible oi .something metallurgical still sat inside 
the furnace. Asbestos mitts hung from a nail be- 
neath two certificates oi U.S. patents, the 
frames warped and sprung by dampness. The 
only dust-free objects in the room were a wicker 
lo\'e seat on a drop cloth, a can ot Rustoleum 
and some brushes, ani.1 a couple ot YUB.AN coffee 

10 1 l.'XRI'HRS M.-\t ;A/1NI- / MAK( 1 1 I W7 

From Floral Arrangements, a series ofphoto^aphs taken with a pinhole cameut by Roe Ethridge. His work was on display lau September at the 
Anna Kustera Gallery in New York City. Ethridge lives in Atlanta. 

cans that despite increasingly irrefutable olfac- 
tory evidence Enid chose not to believe were 
filling up with her husband's urine, because 
what earthly reason could he have, in a 
house with two and a half bath- 
rooms, for peeing in a YUBAN can? 


ntil he retired, Alfred had slept in an 
armchair that was black. Between his naps he 
read Time magazine or watched 60 Minutes or 
golf. On weeknights he paged through the con- 
tents of his briefcase with a trembling hand. 
The chair was made of leather that you could 
smell the cow in. 

His new chair, the great blue one now situat- 
ed to the west of the Ping-Pong table, was built 
for sleeping and sleeping only. It was over- 
stuffed, vaguely gubernatorial. It smelled like the 
inside of a Lexus. Like something modern and 
medical and impermeable that you could wipe 
the smell of death off easily, with a damp ckith, 
before the next person sat down to die in it. 

The chair was the only major purchase Al- 
fred ever made without Enid's approval. I see 
him at sixty-seven, a retired mechanical engi- 
neer walking the aisles of one of those midwest- 
em furniture stores that only people who con- 
sider bargains immoral go to. For his entire 
working life he has taken naps in chairs subor- 
dinate to Enid's color schemes, and now he has 
received nearly five thousand dollars in retire- 
ment gifts. He has come to the store to spend 
the better part of this on a chair that celebrates, 
through its stature and costliness, the only ac- 
tivity in which he is truly himscll. After a life- 

time of providing for others, he needs even 
more than deep comfort and unlimited sleep; 
he needs public recognition of this need. Un- 
fortunately, he fails to consider that monu- 
ments built for eternity are seldom comfortable 
for short-term accommodation. The chair he 
selects is outsized in the way of professional bas- 
ketball shoes. It's a lifetime chair — a mechani- 
cal engineer's chair, a chair designed to func- 
tion under extraordinary stress, a chair with 
plenty of margin for error. On the minus side 
it's so much larger than any person who'd sit in 
it — is at once so yielding and so magnificent — 
that it forces its occupant into the 
postures of a sleeping child. 


hen Alfred went to China to see Chi- 
nese mechanical engineers, Enid went along, 
and the two of them visited a rug factory to buy 
a rug for their family room. They were still un- 
accustomed to spending money on themselves, 
and so they chose one of the least expensive 
rugs. It had a design from the Book of Changes 
in blue wool on a field of beige. The blue of the 
chair Alfred brought into the house a few years 
later vaguely matched the blue of the rug's de- 
sign, and Enid, who was strict about matching, 
suffered the chair's arrival. 

Soon, though, Alfred's hands began to spill 
decaffeinated coffee on the rug's beige ex- 
panses, and wild grandchildren from the Rocky 
Mountains left berries and crayons underioot, 
and Enid began to feel that the rug was a mis- 
take. It seemed to her that in trying to save 
money in life she had made many mistakes like 


this. She reached the pciint of thinkinj^ it 
vvoLikl ha\e heen better to buy no n\^ than to 
buy this ru^. Finally, as Alfred went to sleep in 
his chair, she grew bolder. Her own mother 
had left her a tiny inheritance years ago, and 

[Poem I 


B^ W. S. Mcnvin. in the December 1996 issue i>j 
Poetry. Merwm is the authin, most recently, of 
The Vixen. 

Our own city had the second highest 

Vn rate in the country yielding 

only to Hagerstown Maryland 

we boasted aged somewhere around eleven 

taking credit for it thinking we might 

even be first it was fundamental 

knowledge closer to home than the famous 

roller coaster down at Rocky Glen 

which we agreed was one of the world's 

most dangerous with its hairpin trestle 

out over the water and the whole thing 

about to collapse a lady got on 

back in the summer with a baby 

and when they got off the baby was dead 

but the steady aura of the unspeakable 

emanated from figures like Jenny 

Dee the reigning madam whom we had not seen 

but we all knew she rode in a chauffeur-driven 

black Cadillac with flags on the fenders 

and was friends with the mayor the Chamber 

of Commerce and the police it was a mile 

exactly to the coLirthouse downtown 

by the shortcut over the embankment 

and along the weedy right-of-way to the iron 

truss across the already stove-black 

Lackawanna drunks who tell in there 

were known to be blown-up and all shades of 

by the time they were hshcLl mit on the South 

the paint was worn oft the top of the truss 
where we ran across it into the smell 
of the gasworks which haunted us part way 
up the steep cobbles past the one gray Imuse 
all by itself with its shades drawn tight 
and lights on in the daytime we never 
saw anyone go in or come out of there 
two dollars to the best of our belief 
on the tar sii.le ot the street whispering 
through the cold echoes under the railroad bridge 

she had made certain investments. Interest had 
been added to principal, certain stocks had per- 
formed rather well, and now she had an in- 
come ot her own. She reconceived the family 
r(H)m in greens and yellows. She ordered fab- 
rics. A paperhanger came, and Alfred, who was 
napping temporarily in the dining room, leaped 
to his feet like a man with a bad dream. 

"You're redecorating a}>ainV' 

"It's my own money," Enid said. "This is how 
I'm spending it." 

"And what about the money I spent.' What 
about the work 1 did?" 

This argument had been effective in the 
past, but it didn't work now. "That rug is nearly 
ten years old, and we'll never get the coffee 
stains out," Enid answered. 

Alfred gestured at his blue chair, which un- 
der the paperhanger's plastic drop cloths looked 
like something you might deliver to a power 
station on a flatbed truck. He was trembling 
with incredulity, unable to believe that Enid 
could have forgotten this crushing refutation of 
her arguments, this overwhelming impediment 
U) her plans; it was as if all the unfreedom and 
impossibility in which he'd spent his seven 
decades of life were embodied in this four-year- 
old hut (because of its high quality) essentially 
brand-new chair. He was grinning, his face 
aglow with the awful perfection of his logic. 

"And what about the chair, ther\?" he said. 
"What about the chair!" 

Enid looked at the chair. Her expression was 
merely pained, no more. "I never liked that 

This was probably the most terrible thing 
she could have said to Alfred. The chair was 
the only sign he'd ever given of having a per- 
sonal vision ot the future. Enid's words filled 
him with such sorrow — he felt such pity for the 
chair, sLich solidarity with it, such astonished 
grief at its betrayal — that he pulled off the drop 
cloth and sank into its leather arms and fell 
asleep. (This is one way of recognizing a place 
ot enchantment: a suspiciously high incidence 
of narcolepsy.) 

When it became clear that both the rug and 
Alfred's chair had to go, the rug was easily 
shed. Enid advertised in the free local paper 
and netted a nervous bird of a woman who was 
still making mistakes and whose fifties came 
out ot her purse in a disorderly roll that she un- 
peeled and flattened with shaking fingers. 

But the chair.' The chair was a monument 
ani.1 a symbol and could not be parted from Al- 
fred. It could only be relocated, and so it went 
into the basement aiid Alfred followed. And so 
m the house of the Lamberts, as in the gerontoc- 
racy of which they were a part, as in the country 
as a whole, lite came to be lived underground. ■ 

12 I IXKrhR'S MA( lA/INH / M.AIU :H I w? 

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Looking for the sun in 

Greenland's endless night 

By Gretel Ehrlich 

Our country has wide borders 
there is no man honi has travelled 
round it . 

And it bears secrets in its 
bosom of which no white 
man dreams . 

Up here we live two 
different lives; in the Sum- 
mer, under the torch of 
the Warm Sun; in the 
Winter, under the lash of the 
North Wind. 

But it is the dark and cold that 
make us think most. 

And when the long Darkness 
spreads itself over the country, 
many hidden thing.s are revealed, 
and men's thoughts travel along devi- 
ous paths. 

— Blind Amhrosiiis 

''I'^his morninf: a siinJoK — a rain- 


htiw-like rinj^ arciunJ rhe sun — 
looms so lartje it seems to encircle the 
visible world. As 1 move, it moves. I 
watch it slide across something stuck: a 
ship that has frozen into the ice of Frobisher 
Ray. I am taking ott from kialuit, a town in Arc- 
tic Canaela where I've been strandeel tor several 
days, and as my plane taxis out oiito the run- 
way, the sundog bilk)ws and shudders, dragging 
itself across black ice, too heavy to leave the 
ground. Then the plane eloes rise and so do the 
spectral rays of the sundog — a bright porthole 
into an Arctic winter's permanent twilight. 1 

pass through its waverin 
hoop and it breaks. 

People always ask 
Why do you want to gi 
north, especially at thi 
time of year? There' 
nothing up there 
But Greenlander 
know the oppositt 
is true: "Summer i 
lots of hard work 
All we do i' 
catch fish to fee 
our dogs through 
the winter. Wt 
don't have time ti 
visit or see one anoth- 
er. In winter the fjord.' 
are paved with ice. We gc 
out with our dogs every day 
That's when we are happy.' 
Which is why Pm on my wa\ 
to Uummannac], midway up the 
west coast, to travel by dogsled with 
ten huriters to Thule — the northernmosi 
part of the country — or as tar as we can go. 

1 delight in the spare landscape out thi. 
plane winciow — ice oceans and ice mountains 
and clouds full of ice. So much of what Ameri- 
cans live with is an econiimic landscape — 
malls, stores, and movie theaters, ski slopes ant.1 
theme parks — in which one's relationship to 
place has to do with boredom, undisciplincLJ 
need, and envy. The Arctic's natural austerity 
is richness enough, its physical clarity a form ot 

( irctcl Ehrlich is the niithur oj Qlic^tlons of Heaven, which ivill he jmhlished hy Beacon l^ress m March. Her last picci 
jor Harper's Mat;a:ine, "Time on Ice," appeared in the March l'^^)2 issue. 


M;iphv Olive ]uni 

voluptuousness. Who needs anything more? 

The first time I visited Greenland was two 
summers after a near fatal lightning strike. My 
heart had stopped and started several times, and 
the recovery from ten thousand volts ot elec- 
tricity surging through my hrain took years. To 
live nose to nose with death pruned away emo- 
tional edacity and the presumption of a future, 
even another sunrise. Life was an alternating 
current of dark and light. I lost consciousness 
hundreds of times, and death's presence was al- 

wrap ourselves in wool blankets and sip coffee 
while a mechanic sweeps snow from the wings. 
The blizzard that was stranding us has abated 
tor a few hours, and by the time we get off the 
ground 1 can see a glow on the southern hori- 
zon where the sun will rise. But 1 am flying 
north, away from the sun, toward day that is 
like night and night that never becomes day. 
An old feeling of dread fills me: the claustro- 
phobia of losing consciousness, of not being 
able to talk, move, or see. 

ways lurking — a black form in the corner. Life 
was the light hovering at the top of the sea. 

Greenland's treeless, icebound landscape ap- 
pealed to me so much then that now, three 
years later, I've come back. Its continut)usly 
shifting planes of light are like knives thrown 
in a drawer. They are the layered instruments 
that carve life out of death into art and back to 
life. They teach me how to see. 

My plane from Iqaluit to Kangerlussuaq 
makes an unscheduled, early-morning 
departure. Every seat but two holds strapped-in 
cargo; the steward and I are the only passen- 
gers. It's thirty degrees below zero, made colder 
by a hard, northwesterly wind. In the cabin we 

1|^\ Te break the roof of the storm and fly 
T T east, then veer north, crossing the 63rd 
and the 65th parallels. The immanent sun is 
marked by a neon-pink eyebrow in the south- 
east. "The sun is lazy in winter," an old Inuit 
woman at the airport told me. "It wiirked so 
hard all summer, now it doesn't want to get up. 
It |ust lies there and sleeps all day." 

Days before, flying from Kuujjuaq, Quebec, 1 
saw a ship frozen into the ice at Hudson Bay and 
thought of Henry Hudson's last journey in 
1610-11, during which be had discovered the 
bay later named for him. After leaving winter 
quarters, some of the crew members, despairing 
of the continuous ice and fog and dimini,shed 
food supply, refused to go farther. Moored to an 

All phcitOKraph.sC) (jiilun Rowcll/Mouni.iin l-iyht 


lit' line- sdliR-vvluic III |;iiii(s l^.iy, llir inuliilDils 
t lew scui-il ;iiul liiiilliil I liulsdil, (..isllli;^ linn 
iklriii will) Ills son ;iiul six ciilu-is in ilic- sii.ilidp. 
I lie- null iiiffis s;iili.(l iIh- UisLOVcry lioiiii- s.ile-ly. 
I liklsdii ;iiul I Ik- oil his vviix- iK-vt-r sc-in iitjain. 

L^ lull r us I Inn I I di Ills ;in- while rih i ;il!i's 
lliic.ulcil Willi junk siijiuls <il llisli. j-.iiilirr 
cMsl, the Ice hcldw hii-;iks mid ]>l;iuk'ls slc-|v 
pin)4-sldiu's dii wliitli id iii:iki- inir's c^iiilidiis 
vv;iy. C )iit diH' vviiKldw ;ii'c llu- iiiininlnins of Ba(- 
liii Ishiiul; ;i (;isi -iiidvinj,' river pours oul frum 
ihi-iii, Ms nllirs lid:i-ii 111 phiii- ;is if to ic-;i(.h me 
lessdiis I HI III Mil Id I 111' till in Mil): ll);il ii c is liiui', 
lime IS lll^hl, ll^lll IS speed, :iiui spei'il Iimi-s ll^;l)l 
e(|u;ils ikirkiu'ss, ( n el si- im ire iee. 

It IS iiidiiiiii(^, jliiidsi niiK- dVloik. Bi-lweei) 
hlizziirils, somewhere oui over IVillin IViy, ;i 
ld\v-riiliii)4 sun i^isls iis hiillimu es: ishiiuls iif 
lie shine Wllliin hdilles iil vv;iler lli;il li;i\'e liii 

isl.lluls, .11 II I I si. 1 1 his dl Lllul lie 1. 1 1 W II I III '. llplddl 

III 1 ( ml I mills ( >l ii e, I 'ill I I ml ihe dihei uiiuldw, 
111 iIk lidilh, ,111 llhlli'd \\eili;e li;is heeii li.iiii 
liieleil :ii',;iuisl I he se.i. We .lie ilyiD); llild ihc 
e.lllli'. sh.uldW, I ll.ll IS ihe ikiikliess, I he ,'\ 1 1 
I II lili'hl li H wl III h I .1111 hdiiliil. 


fcfc I \i 1 yiiil see I ll.ll I 111111111' .'" 1 1 11 dill \\ I mi. II I 
,\l ll.illli I ,lsks. 


" I hill I ml iheie ii\ei llie se:i. Il Is ihe I >.ilk 
I dlilllli' up, 1 1 le IJ.IiMl I '.II k !" 

^ I "^he se:i is i ,ilm, .iml :i\\ I like sinnmils si:iiul 
I .ii\iiiisi ihe sk\ , Mdiniii!; dill dill w null i\\ , 
liirlil dill I III I II III I I'l II .1 III! iliieiil I II rl h.ll 

;ilHeJ helween the Iwii. Then ikiwn clllickl 
ilwinilles Id iwilii^hi. A hkuk hi, ink olfoj^ in 
nKiiinsi ihe horiZdn: ihe pi ikir iii^ht ;idv;incir)K 

The Inuil say rhal only the cjcdlunaat — tlu 
while |x-ople -are afraicl of (he dark, wherea 
hskiniDS like nothin)^ heller ihan lon^^ winii 
tiays of eonvivialily. 

"Is there a crealion stury, a hei^inniii^?" 
once asked an Iniiii arc haeolof^ist. 

"Thar m)es idd I, II hack," he said, "it was ^' 
dark I hen, Idd dark Id kiuiw anylhinj^." 

\\ ^e land al ihe did airhase ai Kanyerlu 
T T siiac|, iransler lo a smaller plane, and II 

luirili Id llulissat. There, al midday, the sun i 

like a fire hiirninj^ on the horizon, hut after ; 

lew hours ii drops mil of si^hi . 

The heliiopiei lo I ]iiiiiiiiani)ai| is j^rdundcc 

hy had wealhei. I slay Willi lihsahelh Jul, ; 

yiiiint,' ddiidi whd Is chief uf si, ill al llulissat'; 
regional hospital and visit; 
her oiiilyint^ patients b^ 
doyslcd. She is red-faced 
idinhdyish, and stocky, witF 
a physician's speedy abrupt 
ness and i enderhi'arl ec 
courai^e. I lei In uise smidl; 
like I III kill hell scraps sht 
)4els Iroiii the hdlel next dooi 
and leeds Id her do^js. 

^1 '^hlee d.iys lalel, ihe lieli- 
1 I iipiei Id I liininiannac 
lill s up I lin lUf^h liii^erin^ 
siidw shdwers thai have 
liirned llulissal's (ew hours o 
dayli|4hl u,^':\y. U|i above, ovci 
the waters of Disko Bay, tlit 
sun burns a bole on ihe hori 
:on, lis lon^^ wake i il Ii,l;I)I ; 
Ion h sl Ilk 111].; noil h al I he 
dai k ness illli i W hit 1 1 we lly 
BcddW, eai h u c'her^; Is ; 
nniiialure c mil ineni wall) it; 
dWl) lilli|iiiilse lliliis and Im if.'-l lllj^eled l|dids, 
sluiip peaks and slupnii; plains. Where an u e 
helj; idllapsed inln llsell, lis hinkeli pail 
h,i\'e I iildled and ale lli lal llu.; in hLii k w alel ; n i 
dlliei pi, lies, ilii 111 lldiii has shalleied inn 
elon^^a(ed rec lanj^les like hloi ks i il hasall u n n I 

Inslead dl llyiii!' oxei ihe iiinunlanis, we ll\ 
way dill ,iiul ,iiiiiiiul ihe Nuussii,n| reiiinsiila, ,i 
rdn).;li lliiiiiih III land llial sinks mil iiiln hallin 
Ba\', sep.iMlni" the IdWii III lliiliss.ii limn I liili) 
liiaiili,ii| I |iilil, I he idea Is II 's s,iler In ailln 
iiil.ile down mild ue lh,iii mild .i siinwy iiinuii 
I. nil I he Lilhel i il lll\ ( ileelihilidu lllelld ,'\lei|,i 
ILililliiiind dldWiied III lliis l|md when she was 
seven \i',ils did. I le li,ld been hiililin!', when he 
lei I 1 1 II I III! 'b ihe u e w lib ,ill Ins ddi.;s. "I asked ni\ 

U, I I M'l'l l<"-. MAi ..-\/INI /MAUi II 

grandmother why people have to die, and slie 
told me it was something; arraiij:,'ed hy the spirits. 
Some people have thick candles that last a long 
time. His wasn't so hig. And so he went di)wn to 
where the goddess of the sea lives." 

Once the storm overtakes us, winds huttet 
the helicopter, an old Sikorsky. Its one hlade oi 
hope holds us ahove ice, ocean, sea goddesses, 
land the certain death that Arctic waters hring. 

LTummannaq. Latitude 70. We follow the 
' fjord where Aleqa's father disappeared. 
Snow-covered cliffs rise up, wounded and 
scarred by glacier traffic over their rocky flanks, 
and the last of the twilight disappears. We pass 
the village of Niaqornat out on the western 
end of the peninsula, where the mountains 
turn from rock to cloud. For a moment a half- 
moon comes up above the storm as if greeting 
us. Then we auger down into a chaos of snow, 
falling away from the gaudy metallic glow far to 
the south, toward black, pitching water where 
a smooth floor of ice should have been. 

I'm in Uummannaq agaiti, a town of 1,400 
people and 6,000 dogs perched on a rock is- 
land, cast off from Greenland near the head of 
a fjord. Long ago the sun stopped rising here, 
and I can only wonder if it will ever come 
again. It's 3:00 P.M. and the lights are on all 
over the settlement. What is called day here is 
something else entirely; here the sky has not 
yet become a lamp tor human beings. 1 only 
want to sleep. 

Friends have arranged a house for me. It is 
reached hy a long series of rickety wooden 
stairs over steep, snow-covered rock. At the 
top sits a two-room house, uninsulated and 
with no running water, that looks down on the 
town and harbor below. From my window 1 can 
see the grocery store, the post office, the ware- 
house, the administration building, and the 
bakery on one side of the harbor; on the other, 
the Uummannaq Hotel, the Grill-Baren — a 
Greenlandic-style fast-food place — and a clin- 
ic; and on the far side, the Royal Greenland 
fish factory. Fishing boats are frozen into the 
harbor, and the seal hunters' skiffs are laid hel- 
ter-skelter on top of the ice. 

Fiur I'.M. looks like niielnight, and the L\^1U, 
loise is cacophonous. Biini^lled up in wool 
pants, down parka, and sealskin mittens with 
dog-hair ruffs at the wrist, 1 trudge rhrough a 
village lined with prim Hanish-style bciuses 
painted yellow, bkie, or green. Once, the Inuit 
people lived in peat, stone, and whalebone 
houses that in winter were lined with rime ice. 
When the sun rerurnei.1 they removeil ihe roofs 
to let the rooms thaw. 

Each yard has a sled, twelve or foLirteen 
Greenlandic huskies (each chained on a long 
line), a drying rack hung with halibut to teed 
the dogs, and seal- and polar-bear skins pulled 
taut on stretchers and leaned against the 
hoLise to dry. 

Kids shoot by, four to a sled, narrowly missed 
by a dogsled climbing the hill the other way. 
Men and women push prams with babies whose 
tiny hands reach up to touch dangling mobiles of 
si-jft-sided whales and seals. Female dogs in heat 

The sun burns a hole in the horizc^n, 

its long wake of light a torgh striking north 

at the darkness into which we fly 

run loose through town, as do all puppies, and as 
each passes through a new neighborhood of 
chained dogs, howls and moans erupt — the 
sounds of excitement arid longing. I feel rather 
Linnecessary in this world of dogs. Local taxis 
zoom up and down the hills, taking grocery shop- 
pers home, and through the window of a tiny 
woodworking shop whose lights are on, it is im- 
possible not to see two graphic posters — beaver 
shots — of naked white women on the wall. 

Morning. The current crisis is that the 
fjords have not iced over. Without ice, 
there is no way to get to other villages. We are 
prisoners here, and my dogsled trip to the 
north may he doomed. 

Far out near the head of the fjord there is a 
piece of ice shaped like a heart within a heart- 
shaped opening of black water. My own 
heaiL — which stopped once and started again 
unaided — is almost too cold to heat, arid any- 
way, tor whtim? Down there in the water the 
sea goddess lives. Her long hair is tangled and 
full oi lice, and no one will comb it clean. She 
is unhappy, the old people say, and there are 
no anoakkncp — shamans — to pacify her. That is 
why tliere is no ice. 

^j^^oday I meet a man who knows all about 
a. trees but has never seen one growing. He's 
llie local dogsled maker. Each district has a dis- 
tinct sled-making style. 

The shop is high-ceilingei.1, with handsonie 
Danish-modern workbenches where sL\ls of dif- 
ferent sizes are being constructed. As we vv;ilk 
between rliL-m he explains that for the runners, 
which must be strong but flexible for traveling 
over rough ice or rock, he buys whole trees from 
Denmark that have been split in halt and air- 
dried. When cutting and shaping them he is 
cai\'lul to march the left, or outer concave, sii^le 


ot the Iol; ro the icti side ot the sled, and the 
ri^ht, or inner convex, side to the rii^lu side. 
Otherwise the runners will hreak, he tells me. 

Sleds vary in size according to tiinction. The 
lonti sleds used to hunt narwhal in the spring, 
when the sea ice is hreakiiiL; up, are ei).:hteen 
teet lony, whereas tor local travel and seal 

Against the lxxis' constant conversation 

about social hierarchy^urgent matters oe 

food, sex, and rank— 1 lie alone in my bed 

hunting may he only six or eight teet long. On 
sleds to he used tor long trips at any time ot the 
year, he reintorces the handles and joints with 
sheet metal, and the crosshars that make up the 
floor ot the sled must he fastened at alternating 
lengths into the runner. It not, the runner will 
hreak through the grain ot the wood. 

It's Friday afternoon, and already the other 
workers in the shop are drinking warm Tuhorg 
heer. On the floor 1 lay a topographical map of 
the Uummannaq Fjord and the Nuussuaq 
Peninsula. They gather around to show me 
which canyon they go up to get across the top 
oi the mountains, where they sleep at night 
(there are huts along the way), and v\'here 
hunters the year hetore were rescued hy heli- 
copter after the piece of ice they were standing 
on hroke away duriiig a storm. They also show 
me where friends have disappeared thnuigh the 
ice — dogs, dogsleds, and all. 

When 1 it the ice will come this winter, 
they look out the windows and shrug. Then the 
sled maker says, "The time hetween the full 
moon and the new moon — that is when ice al- 
ways comes. When the weather gri)ws calm 
and very cold. If there are no more snowstorms, 
there will he ice." 

Qilaq taatnq. The sky is dark. Scqineq. The 
sun. Sikii. Ice. Tarraq. Shadow. Aput . 
Snow. Tarioq. Darkness. Kisimii[^lnin};,a. 1 am 
alone. That's my vocahiilary lesson for the day 
from a mimeographed Greenlandic-English 
dictionary used hy Allied troops during World 
War 11, with wiulIs ahout bombs, warships, tor- 
pedoes, an^l CV-rman-speakmg people. In read- 
ing the expei^lition notes of KnutI Rasmussen, I 
learn that words usei.1 in seances are different 
from secular words, so that the shamanic word 
for sea is aqiisoq (thi' soft one), rather than the 
usual imaq. 

By the time 1 walk home trom the skxl mak- 
er's shop, the skim of ice is gone and the |iath- 
way out to the annual ice lisclI for drinking wa- 
ter has gone to liejuid. 

At my house 1 reail ahout dark neliulae — iiii clouds composed of the detritus of dyin 
stars. Their function is unclear, but their effe^ i 
in the universe is to "produce visual extint 
tion." Yet the nei">ulae themselves are de 
tectable because of "the obscuration the\ 
cause." 1 Kiok up at the sky. The dark patche- 
between constellations are not blanks hiii 
dense interstellar obstructions through which 
light friJin distant suns cannot pass. They ar^ 
known \arioiisly as the Snake, the HorseheaJ 
the Coalsack. Darkness is not an absence hut i 
rich and dense presence, a kind of cosmu 
chocolate, a forest of stellar events whose exis- 
tence is kiiown only by its invisibility. 

1)olar days are almost the same as polai 
nights, and anyway, the streetlights ir 
town are always on. 1 try to keep to a sched- 
ule — coffee in the morning, dinner at night 
then sleep — hut the schedule slides into the 
body's own understanding ot constant dark, 
sleep when 1 should eat anel eat in the middle 
of the night. A recent study suggests that the 
eye may have its own biological clock, sepa- 
rate from the one in the brain. Now it's possi- 
ble to think ot eyes as circadiaii timepiece; 
with re.settable daily rhythms in the retina that 
orchestrate the ebb and flow of the hormone 
melatonin. In the dark and near-dark, 1 won- 
der what dances my eye rhythms are inakiii^ 
and if, upon reentering the world of all-da^ 
SLin, 1 will be blind. 

\nn Andreasen is a Faroe Islander whc 
followed a boyfriend to Greenland anc 
decided to stay. Her house is next door to the 
Children's House she rmis {or children whose 
own homes have been marred by domestic vi- 
olence or drugs. In the m iridic ot the night i 
little girl is brtuight in. She has just witnes.sec 
the beating of her mother. The pt)licemar 
who went to the scene is a friend of the fami 
ly's, and, as in all Greenland towns, there i- 
no bureaucratic tangle and no prison, just ; 
firm suggestion that the child spend the iiigbi 

Ann has left her own child, who is sick witl 
the flu, to attend ti) the newcomer. Badly shak 
en, the girl is given hot chocolate and cookies 
a fresh nightgown and toothbrush, then put ti 
bed. The Children's Holisc is modern, .spotless 
and cheerful with a capacious kitchen, livinL 
and arts area, computers and paints and tradi- 
tional crafts tor the kids. But the stories Anr 
can tell are a litany ot tragedies — the in- 
exitable conse^iuences of a fiercely self-sufti 
cient people meeting up with modern Euro 
pean lite, despite or maybe because >• 
Denmark's altruistic socialism. 

^K II \i;i'l:irsMA(lAZINK/ MARCH |W7 

My daily walk has been the one constant. 
Down the stairs from my perched green 
house, 1 stroll along the rocky edge ot town, 
past the inlet where yesterday a wave generated 
by a calving glacier washed fifteen anchored 
boats onto the road. The Danes were so busy 
trying to save their pleasure boats that they tor- 
got about the dogs tied up at the shore. The 
dogs drowned. 

A week later. Now it's mid-January. A dis- 
tant sound of thunder jolts me: a glacier 
calves, and waves made from the iceberg's 
birth undulate toward shore. Then something 
catches my eye: low down, from between two 
white cliffs, a full moon begins to rise — almost 
too enormous for the mountains that flank it. I 
stand mesmerized on the 
edge of the island. For some 
time the moon rises so slow- 
ly I'm afraid it will drop 
back down. But moons are 
not betrayed by gravity. 
Soon it tops the icy towers 
at the head of the fjord and 
brightens, suddenly rubes- 
cent, as if it had just been 
cut from ice and thrown up 
in the air — the absent sun's 
pale twin. 

iy /rorning. I'm not living 
i.T Aon earth or ice but on 
rock and the sharp tooth of 
Uummannaq Mountain. At 
eleven the peak catches 
light like the poisoned tip of 
an arrow, and the cliffs that 
gave birth to the moon last 
night are pink, crimson, and 
gold. At noon there is a bit 
of light in the sky, but not 
enough to read by. 

Later, maybe 2:00 A.M. Against the dogs' 
constant conversation about social hierarchy — 
urgent matters of food, sex, and rank, and the 
general angst of being chained on dirty patches 
of rock and snow — I lie alone in my bed. The 
moon is down. Unable to sleep, I drink a cheap 
bottle of blanc de noir — the white ot the black, 
the foam of the night, the light hidden within 
dark grapes and made to sparkle. But how do 
they get white from black? How do they sepa- 
rate the two? 

When all the blanc is gone there is only 
noir, ohscurum per obscuris, a dark path leading 
through darkness. The Inuit never made much 
of beginnings, and now I know why. Because 
no matter what you do in winter, no matter 
how deep you dive, there is still no dayiight 

and none of the comprehension that comes 
with light. Endings are everywhere, visible 
within the invisible, and the timeless days and 
nights tick by. 

I am invited to dinner at a local painter's 
house with Ann and her husband, Ole Jor- 
gen. Ole Jorgen arrives first to drop oft a bottle 
of wine, and an ashtray almost hits him in the 
head. The artist — S. — and his wife are fighting. 
S. has been drunk for days. But they insist we 
come in. S. has recently suffered a stroke and 
can't walk. Holding court in his unkempt 
house, on a low daybed amid empty beer bot- 
tles, he looks like a doomed, deposed king, but 
his conversation is bright. 

S.'s Greenlandic wife sets dinner diiwn on 

the coffee table. It's a traditional soup made 
with seal meat and potatoes, accompanied by a 
shrimp and cabbage salad. (Lettuce doesn't sur- 
vive the trip from Denmark to Greenland.) As 
the evening wears on, S.'s talk is reduced to ex- 
pletives and non sequiturs. He adopts a British 
accent and says "I caun't" over and over, in- 
serting it nonsensically between anyone's 
words. It's funny at first, but once 1 realize there 
will be no end to it I grow bored. 

The wine has turned to vinegar; in the mid- 
dle of the meal S.'s wife vomits in the kitchen 
sink. As we try to finish dinner fire engines roar 
by toward Ann's house, and we race outside af- 
ter them. They pass her house and continue up 
the hill. My intention is to keep going, but Ole 
Jorgen says, "Yiui're the guest of honor!" 

I talk to S. about his paintings, and he gives 


me some sketches he's made ot the harhor, 
white clitts, and icehergs. The man can draw. 
When the evening hnally ends, 1 thank him tor 
the gifts. Alone in my green house, 1 hiindle 
myself up in my made-to-order Feathered 
Friends sleeping bag and sit by the window. 
The tranquillity of perpetual night is like 
starch in my hrain. 

In winter, light soLirces are reversed. Snow- 
covered earth is a light, and the sky is a blot- 
ter that soaks up everything visible. There is no 
sun, but there's a moon that lives on borrowed 
time and borrowed light. Home late from hunt- 
ing, two men pull a sledge laden with freshly 
killed seals up a hill, dripping a trail of blood in 
the snow. As I doze oH, 1 i.lream that the paths 
are all red and the sky is ice and the water is 
coal. I take a handful of water and draw with it: 
in the frc^izen sky, I draw a black sun. 

Later I can't sleep. The half-mcxin's slow ris- 
ing seems like a form of exhaustion, with night 
trying to hold the moon's head down under- 
water. It bobs up anyway, and 1, its captive au- 
dience, catch the illuminated glacial cliffs on 
the surface of my eyes. The moon's light is re- 
flected light, but from what source? The sun is 
a flix)d that blinds us, a sun we can't see. 


anuary 27. The glaciers are rix'ers, the sky i- 
struck solid, the water is ink, the mountain- 
are lights that go on and ott. Siimetimes I lu 
under my sleeping bag on the couch and reciti 
a line from a Robert Lowell poem: "Any clen 
thing that blinds us with surprise." 

1 sletp by a cold window that I've opened ,i 
crack. Frigid air streams up the rock hill and 
smells like minerals. In sleep I hear the crack 
ling sound that krill make underwater. Earliei 
in the day the chunk of glacier ice 1 dumper! 
into a glass of water made the same sound. 

The ice came from the top of a long tongut 
that spills out at the head of this fjord, as if ii 
were the bump of a tastebud that had been 
sliced off, t)r a part of speech. Now it has melt 
ed and looks floury, like an unnecessary word 
that adds conftision to insight. But when I 
drink it down, its flavor is bright, almost pep 
pery, bespeaking a clarity of mind I rarely tasti 
but toward which I aspire. 

When I lie back in the dark, the pupils of m\ 
eyes open. 

My Uummanna(.| friends and I have start 
ed a countdown until the day the sun 
appears. After all, there's nothing else to do. 
Days pass. 1 try to distingiiish the shadowed 

40 llARrHK'SM.Al.iAZlNE/M.AKCH 1^7 

path from the shadowed world hut fail. Then 
it's February. 

The real is fragile and inconstant. The unreal 
is ice that won't melt in the sun. 1 walk partway 
up Uummannaq Mountain and look south. The 
sun's first appearance of the year will occur in 
three days, but for now the light is fish-colored — 
I a pale, silvery gray, like the pallor between night 
• and day. I try to remember the feel of sun on my 
face, but the dark mass, the rock body of Nuus- 
suaq Peninsula, drives the sensation away. 

In the night there is none of the old terror of 
the sun going down and never coming up 
again, the terror that heart patients feel, be- 
cause the sun is already gone, and I'm alive, 
and the darkness is a cloak that shelters me. As 
I walk down the mountain to the town dump, 
patches of frostbite, like tiny suns, glow on my 
cheeks. They burn like lamps, and 1 wonder if, 
later, they will cast enough light to read by, if 
they will help me to see. 

Later 1 walk around the room tryuig to lift 
the dark cover of night with a flashlight in my 
hand, as if its fading beam were a shovel. I'm 
trying to understand how one proceeds from 
blindness to seeing, from seeing to vision. 

In Greenland's early days a young shaman 
would come to the old angakkoq and say, Tako- 
rusuppara. "I come to you because I desire to 
. see." After purifying himself by fasting and suf- 
fering cold and solitude, he would sit on a pair 
of polar-bear pants beside the old man, hidden 
from the villagers by a curtain of skin, and in 
time would receive qaamaneq — a light suddenly 
felt in his body, an inexplicable searchlight 
that enabled him to see in the dark. 

One young shaman told Knud Rasmussen 
that his first experience of "enlightenment" was 
a feeling of rising up — literally, up into the air 
so that he could see through mountains, could 
see things far away, even blades of grass, and on 
that great plain he could locate all lost souls. 

'"P^he next day. I don't know where I am. 
A Wind comes through the walls. Maybe 
the walls have fallen away and merged with the 
walls of the galaxy. In this place it seems that 
there are only undefined distances that grow 
wider. I pick up a two-week-old New York 
Times science section brought from America, 
and it confirms this notion. "Space Telescope 
Reveals 40 Billion More Galaxies," the head- 
line reads. Following the repair of the Hubble 
Space Telescope, which gives detailed portraits 
of galaxies far out in space and far back in time, 
astronomers learned that the universe is ar 
least five times as vast as they had thought and 
is still expanding. Because of the telescope's 
power, many fainter galaxies are now being 
counted fi)r the first time. 

From the window I look into indigo space, 
and indigo space, like an eyeless eye, looks 
back at me. The thirteenth-century Zen 
teacher Dogen wrote, "To say that the world is 
resting on the wheel of space or on the wheel 
of wind is not the truth of the self or the truth 
of others. Such a statement is based on a small 
view. People speak this way because they think 
that it must be impossible to exist without hav- 
ing a place on which to rest." 




In the harbor, we walk on crystal. Night is a 
transparency, and ice is the cataract over the 
eye that won't see. Only the fin-like keels of 
fishing boats touch water under ice, and the 
fish look up through their cold lenses at our 
awkward boots. Beyond the harbor there is 
still-open water and the fjord is a wrinkled 
sheath of ink that has lost the word "ice." 

Later. Twilight gone to dark. I lie naked, 
careless, not quite destitute under a full moon 
on a polar night. Greenlanders thought that the 
moon and sun were sister and brother who had 
unknowingly slept together. After they discov- 
ered their incest they sailed up to the sky hold- 
ing torches, and lived in separate houses from 
then on. In summer only sun, the sister, came 
out of her house, and in winter only the brother 
moon came out. Sometimes, though, he had to 
go away to get animals for the people to eat, 
which is why, when the new moon came, the 
people were thankful for the return of its light. 

I light two candles and open a bottle of 
Fitou, a red table wine from a French vil- 
lage I once visited. Strange that I can get it 
here. The biweekly helicopter from Upernavik, 
a town 100 miles to the north, comes and goes, 
its pale headlights wedgmg a channel of light 
in dark air: should I run to the heliport and es- 
cape, or give up and stay here forever? In the 
dark there is no middle ground. 

Sitting by the window, 1 must look like a char- 
acter from an Edward Hopper painting — almost 
unmoving but not unmoved. Stuck here on this 
Arctic Alcatraz, I don't know what I'm moved 
to, except too much drink, and low-fever rage. 

1 write and drink by candlelight. No leaf, no 
shadow, no used-up senses finally coming to 
rest, no lover's post-orgasmic sleep. Only this: a 
cold room where snow fallen from my boots 
does not melt and the toilet in the unheated 
entry of the house stinks because it has not 


been emptied tor days. It occurs to me that the 
oiily shadow I've noticed since last autumn is 
the wavering one a candle makes, castint; its 
uncertainty upon the wall. 

Later in the evening the wind stops and a 
skin of ice hardens over the water. Groups ot 
villagers come down to the harhc^r to watch and 
wait. An old woman standing next to me looks 
tar out over the ice and water and says, "It people 
go out, they will die. They will tall through the 
ice and go down to where the sea goddess lives. 
No one knows about ice anymore." 

February 3. Jt>rge Luis Borges reprimands us 
tor thinking that blind people live in a 
dark world. Behind his blind eyes, he says, 
there were always colors. In Paradise Lost, Mil- 
ton, also blind, writes of burning lakes, ot in- 
ward conflagrations. I tell Ludwig, Ole Jorgen's 
son, the story ot Ulysses and the Cyclops, how 
in order to escape from the Cyclops, Ulysses 
and his men sharpened a stick and drove it 
through the giant's eye, then clung to the un- 
derbellies of sheep and were carried luit o{ the 
cave right past their blinded captor. 

The sun is an eye. Its cciming means that the 
boulder rolls away from in front of the cave and 
we are set free. Yet I'm still night-foundered, still 
blind so much of the time. 1 read John Muir's 

book Trat'L'Ls m Alaska. He writes ot a summer 
day, crossing a glacier: "July 19th. Nearly blind. 
The light is intolerable and I tear 1 may be long 
unfitted for work. I have been lying on my back 
all day with a snow poultice bound over my 
eyes. Every object I try to look at seems double." 
I'm done with daylight. It reeks ot carbonous 
toast crumbs left behind after breakfast, of the 
kind of bright decor that hides a congenital 
blindness to what is real. Today in my house, 
with no lights, no water, only a view of the 

darkness outsii.le from the darkness within, 
from the unlighted room of the mind and the 
unheated room of the heart, I know that what 
is real comes together only in darkness, umler 
the proscenium of night's gaunt h(H)d. 

It also occurs to me that the real and the 
imagined have long since fused here, that it's 
not the content of experience that is important 
but the structure ot iiur knowing. 

In the next days there is more daylight, three 
or four hours at least, but not enough to reae! 
by — that's become my measuring stick. Tomor- 
row the sun will peep over the ridge, then dis- 
appear. Now I don't want it. I've grown accus- 
tomed to the privacy and waywardness of night. 
In daylight all recognitions turn out to be mis- 
conceptions. During one of my many naps I 
dream that I can hear the sun beating behind 
the rocky peninsula like an expectant heart. 

February 4. Sun Day, Sonntag, Sunday 
Soltest. At ten in the morning light 
heaves up. It's seventeen below zero and the 
sky over the Nuussuaq Peninsula is a pink lip 
trembling. The wind is sharp. Ann and Ole 
Jorgen spread a yellow cloth on the dining- 
room table for our post-sun feast. In northern 
Greenland it is still dark. Solfest will not reach 
Thule for aiiother three weeks. 

Here in Uummannaq it is nearly time. Panic 
sets in. Do the children have mittens, caps, 
boots on? Gitte, a neighbor, comes by in her 
pickup to take us all to the topmost viewpoint 
on the island — her house. Ole Jorgen, Ann, Pi- 
paloc] (their two-year-okJ daughter), Ludwig, 
and I jump in. At the top we run to the edge of 
a cliff that looks across roiling fjord waters 
south toward the mountains. There's a moment 
of utter hreathlessness, then a pale light begins 
to move into the sky and smears itself from the 
sharp point of the heart-shaped mountain 
down into the village. Every object ot ArctiL 
clutter momentarily goes from shade to gloss — 
sleds, harnesses, dogs, drying racks, clothes- 
lines, drying animal skins, cars, baby carriages, 
empty bottles, gravestones. House by house, 
the dead windows come alive. The sled dog,^ 
stand up and stretch in the suii, shaking all the 
secrets of winter horn their coats. 

Eleven forty-seven A.M. Ole Jorgen counts 
down: five, four, three, two ... A spray of cloud 
lifts, lit from beU)w and fired to the color of 
salmon. From behind the upside-down arch ol 
rock, incandescent daggers spike the sky. In the 
square notch between two peaks, a tiny cres- 
cent of sun appears, throwing flames onto the 
forehead of morning. 

"Look, I can see my shadow!" Ole Jorgen 
says. His son runs to the wall of the house, at 


fectionately touching the elongated body of his 
father. "That's you, papa!" he says. 

Do shadows prove existence? "Sono io," 
Gitte yells out across the valley as if yodeling. 
"1 am." 

For six minutes the sun burns inside the 
notch like a flame. When it scuttles behind the 
ridge again, our shadows dwindle to nothing- 
ness. I am not 1. 

Everyone goes inside to eat and drink: kaffe, 
tea, mitaq (whale skin with a quarter inch of 
fat), rye bread, cheese, smoked salmon, and a 
dark Dansk liqueur that tastes like night. Out- 
side, the sky is still bright and sun pushes west 
behind the mountain as if behind the back of a 
giant, almost appearing again in a crack, then 
going blank again. 

We toast Knud Rasmussen, polar explorer 
and ethnographer extraordinaire; we toast 
the return of the sun. After all, we're still 
alive despite our various bouts of cancer, 
tooth loss, divorce, marriage, childbearing, 
barrenness, and, in my case, lightning. As I 
drink down my liqLieur, it occurs to me that 
there are all kinds of blindness and all kinds 
of seeing, that a dark world is not emblematic 
of death but of a feral clarity. And so I must 
wonder: in this sudden flood of sun, have 1 
seen anything.' 

Afternoon. The pink light is going, not 
down but up, a rising curtain lifting light 
across the face ot the village, up the long tooth 
of Uummannacj Mountain, leavmg in its wake 
the old darkness. The diesel-powered lights of 
town come on as we stumble home. Dogs are 
fed. An old man chips away at an iceberg, carry- 
uig 1 chunk in his pail to melt for drinking wa- 
ter. The world has returned to its dark normalcy. 
Walking back to my perched house, I see 
that out in the bay a collapsed iceberg holds a 
tiny lake in its center, a turquoise eye glancing 
upward. The moon comes up in the east as if it 
were a sun, and for the second time in one day, 
the mountains go bright. 

Today winter was a burning lake and 1 
watched it catch fire. 

lulissat. Mid-February. The dogsled trip to 

Thule has been canceled until next year. 
Again 1 land on Elisabeth Jul's doorstep. 

"You must go dogsledding atdeast once while 
you are here," she says on the phone from the 
hospital. It's noon and she's already performed 
surgery, delivered a baby, dispensed condoms. By 
evening she will have peiiormed an autopsy cin a 
policeman from Sisimuit who committed suicide. 
"After all," she says, "that's what you came for." 

I sleep much of the day. Elisabeth is late 


cominL; Ihmuc troni the Imspital, and I ask if it 
isn't too late to harness the do,^s. "Why not.'" 
she asks. "It it's dark, it's ^hirk. Wlio cares what 
time it is.'" 

We put on hiyers and hiyers ot Arctic 
clothes — tiir o\er Piilartec o\-er down o\er Po- 
lartec — arid start catching and Irarnessin^ the 
do.t;s. They are frantic with deli.yht at the 
thou<,'ht ot hein^ treed troni their chains. One 
hy one, Elisaheth leads them up the hill to the 
sled, where I am tying a trtizen reindeer hide to 
the frame for us to sit on. She pushes the do<i;s' 
heads anel leiis throu<^h nylon harnesses, then 
ties their long blue lines to the central knot 
near the front of the sled. 

My job is to keep the dcigs from running ott. 
"Nik. Nik. V'mta," Elisabeth say.s. I repeat the 
commands to stay and sit. She hands me the 
long reindeer-hide whip, which I shake at the 
dogs that move. They cower in mock displays 
of tear. As soon as Elisabeth ties the last dog 
in, they quiver with expectation. "Better sit on 
the sled and hang on," I am warned, though 
I'm not exactly sure what 1 should hang on to 
and Elisabeth doesn't say. When her hands 
touch the sled handles the dogs erupt in a 
snarling fight, then jerk forward and take off 
feverishly. She jumps on the back ot the sled 
and we are flying. 

Cars come toward us and veer ott quickly. 
The dogs, which are hooked up in the tradition- 
al tan-like array, don't step aside for anyone or 
anything. If pedestrians don't get out ot the way, 
the dogs will go right over them. We turn left at 
Knud Rasmussen's little red house (now a muse- 
um), follow the path to the center oi town, tly 
past the bank, the brottlet (an open-air market), 
the tourist shop, then leave the harbor behind 
on the road that goes out to the airport. 

"This is called the 'Round the World 
Lt)op,"' Elisabeth yells. When she commands 
the dogs to stt)p, they stiip. There are no reins. 
Nothing to hang on to. If you tall ott the sled 
and the dogs run ott, you walk home. We bump 
up and o\-er a lip ot plowed snow and lollow a 
trail into the mountains. 

In Rasmussen's day, sleel runners were made 
ot walrus bone covered with reindeer hides. 
Now they are metal and emit sparks as we 
scrape over rock. The sky clears. 1 thmk ot 
Milton's line from Paradise Lost: "No light, but 
rather darkness visible." Av\-ay trom the all- 
night lights ot Uulissat, we can see the stars 
and guide ourselves by them. "I wish you had a 
cabin out here ani,l we ne\'er had to go back," 1 
tell Elisabeth. 

The groLini.1 is une\'en — rock and snow anel 
ice and more rock. When the dogs come to the 
top ot a ridge they know to stop so that Elisa- 
beth can get ott the sled and look o\'er to tinel a 

sate route dinvn. As they tire, their speed i 
more negotiable — they settle into a steady trot 
1 try to jump oft the moving sled and stand, al 
in one movement, but tail and roll in a bal 
through the snow, laughing. 1 run to catch uj, 
with the sled, grabbing the handle to pull my^ 
self closer, then Elisabeth jumps on and rest! 
while I "drive," tht)ugh the truth is the sled i; 
dragging me as I pump my legs on unever 
grc^und in heavy oversize Arctic boots. 

Finally we stop to let the dogs rest. Elisa 
beth's face and hair is trosted white and hei 
nnind cheeks are bright red. It's twenty degree; 
below zero but we're almost hot — Elisabetl" 
wears neither gloves nor hat. "I only do that 
when it's really cold," she says. The dogs slee{ 
curled in little knots — white and pale yellow ori 
snow. The Big Dipper is laying its ladle dowr 
on our heads and we know we're headed north 

When we start off again, Elisabeth jumps 
on the sled and crouches behind me, her arm 
around my shoulder to keep from falling off, 
In that moment 1 experience an extraordi 
nary sense of well-being. Bundled into polar 
rotundity, linked and crouching, we fly from 
abyss to abyss. We look up: the northern 
lights flare, hard spotlights focused on dark 
nebulae and nothingness. They expand an^ 
contract like white laces being pulled tight 
and extending so tar up into the sky that they 
appear to be holding the universe together. 

Darkness reconciles all time and disparity 
It is a kind of rapture in which life is no 
longer lived brokenly. In it we are seers with 
no eyes. The polar night is one-flavored, 
equanimous, without past or future. It is the 
smooth medium of present-time, of time be 
yond time, a river that flows between dreaming 
and waking. Behind the dogs, in the streaming 
wake ot their flatulence, we move over white 
ground tast. The ground is alive like a torrent, 
a wild cataract. Which one is moving.' 

"I'm still not sure where we are," Elisabeth 
says, "but we're not lost. It's impossible to be 
lost. That woLild mean we were nowhere." Wc 
cross ridges, slide down icy slopes, zing over 
snowless patches, striking rock into sparks as it 
our sled runners were trying to light our way. 
But the moon does that, and anyway, seeing in 
the dark is no longer a ditticulty. 

To oLir disappointment, the lights ot llulissat 
tlare up ahead ot the team. "Let's not go 
home," I plead. But we have to. We bump over 
a plowed cornice ot snow and hit the road near 
the airport that leads back into town. On ice 
the sled tishtails, wagging with a kind ot unspo- 
ken happiness, and as the dogs go taster and 
taster, I am swept forward over the glass eye ot 
the earth into the tull sun ot darkness. ■ 



E R K E L E Y 


After the Berkeley fire, an architectural disaster 

B}' David L. Kirp 


landing in the 
fourth-story tower ot 
his startling new home, 
his untamed beard fly- 
ing off in every direc- 
tion, psychotherapist 
Michael Lesser resem- 
bles an Old Testament 
prophet looking out 
over the Promised 
Land. His house is one 
of nearly three thou- 
sand built over the last 
five years in the hills of 
Berkeley and Oakland, 
California, not as part of a planned development 
hut rather one by one, on three sc^uare miles re- 
duced to ashes in October 1991 by one of the 
most destructive wildfires in the nation's history. 
The fire raged for three days. Before it lev- 
eled the pine and eucalyptus trees, thick foliage 
blocked all but the minutest of views from 
what was then the Lessers' home. Now the 
vista is almost unimpeded, and Michael Lesser 
finds himself pleased by the distant and en- 
nobling sight of San Francisco Bay. "It was 


God," he said during 
one of my many visits 
to these charred hills, 
"who gave us a mag- 
nificent 360-degree 

The new houses 
vary from riear-dupli- 
cates of those de- 
stroyed in the fire to 
insistently postmodern 
residences intended 
for glossy display in 
the architecture maga- 
zines. The Lessers' 
house was designed by noted Bay Area archi- 
tect Stanley Saitowitz. Like all of Saitowitz's 
buildings, it is meant to make a statement, and 
in this, at least, it succeeds. Most of the Lessers' 
neighbors liken the massive gunship-gray 
building to a motel. The more whimsically 
minded see a submarine encased in stucco, run 
aground on a sloping suburban lot. 

All the windows in the Lessers' house are 
positioned to prevent the eye from gazing 
downward at the tangle of weeds and debris 

David L. Kirp is Pro/essor oj Public Policy at the Univcnity af Califimva-Berkelcy , and co-author, with John P. Divyer 
and Larry A. Rosenthal, of Ow Tinvn: Race, Honsint;, and the Soul of Suhiirhia. His oivn home ivas one oj forty- 
five obliterated in a 1 995 wildfire - 

All pliotdgniphs hy M;iri;in Brenner 


that clmkes the rest oi their [Uiiperty. The 
view instead is entirely upward, east tmvard a 
treeless landscape ot cracked toundations, tall 
grasses, and tire-twisted ruins. The middle 
distance is tilled with architectural contrap- 
tions risen crazily from the ashes, their varie- 
gated roots (tlat and mansard, bowed and 
peaked) overshadowed, a bit farther up the 
hillside, by the immense backsides oi the 
boxy new constructions commonly called 
"monster houses." 

The sight startles e\'eryone who encounters 
it tor the tirst time. It's as it, atter the eruption 

lands that tan out trom the university campn 
west to San Franci.sco Bay sutter the depri\a 
tions that beset every American city. Crowds 
with modest workingman's bungalows buili 
halt a century ago, the tlats are social light 
years removed from the serene hills 'on the 
city's southeastern corner, where the average 
house sells for half a million dollars and the 
views reach as far as the Golden Gate Bridge. 

The October 1991 fire did not reach th<. 
flats. It was the hills, covered with 1,800 acre- 
ot brush and scrub, parched by six years o' 
drtjught, that burned. Winds blew at thirty-fi\ i. 


ot Vesuvius, Pompeii had reinvented itself as 
Las Vegas. 1 came to these ominous hills last 
summer in hopes ot understanding how this 
happened — how so many seemingly well-in- 
tentioned people, most of them possessed of 
large sums ot insurance money and the aspira- 
tion to do well tor themselves by doing good, 
could make such a shambles ot what 
1^ was once a lovely hillside. 


he interno oi 1991 is the most literal, but 
not the only, trial by tire through which Berke- 
ley has passed. Berkeley is among the best- 
known cities ot a hundred thousand souls any- 
where on the planet, and certainly the most 
willtully controversial. Its university is world- 
class; its cultural offerings rival those of cities 
htty times its size; its street-theater politics, al- 
though muted in recent years, play two stan- 
dard deviations to the left ot Democratic Party 
orthodoxy; and its capacity to embrace the 
artistic a\'ant-gari.le is legendary. The city 
trades on this reputation, writing and rewriting 
advertisements tor itself as "the conscience oi 
the white Western world" and "the intellectual 
epicenter oi the United States." 

Berkeley's professed radicalism makes it a 
refuge tor the mad and the visionary alike, for 
Nobel Prize laureates and lawyers who have 
seen the transcendent light. Despite this, it re- 
mains a socially divided community where ge- 
ography recapitulates demography. The flat- 

miles an hour; tree branches shot flames like 
spears across two major freeways and a reser-| 
voir. During the three days that the fire ragec 
out of control, 3,354 single-family homes anc 
456 apartments situated along the hilly ridge 
Berkeley and Oakland were destroyed. One 
hundred and fifty people were seriously injurec 
Twenty-five were killed. So complete was the 
devastation that observers invoked the image 
ot bomb-blasted, smoldering Dresden. 

For a few short months atter the fire, the res 
idents ot the Berkeley hills behaved in an e\ 
emplary manner. Those who had lost then 
houses insisted on being called survivors, not 
victims, and the distinction wasn't merely se 
mantic. They would return, they said, hardy pi 
oneers determined to make this charred desert 
bloom again.* 

An impromptu meeting at nearby Montclait 
Presbyterian Church, held just two days attei 
homeowners were allowed back into the bun 
zone, attracted a crowd ot nearly two hundred 
anxious tor news of their neighbors. At the 
next meeting, a week later, six hundred people 

* The Berkeley /ire surrnvrs saw themselves m nohL 
contrast to more materialistic California disaster victims 
Durmg a 1993 inferno in Malihn, a local paper carried u 
story about two intrepid matrons who piled their fewei- 
and dogs into kayaks and set out to sea, where they wctl 
rescued by bronzed and heroic lifeguards. Lost in the eel 
ebratory telling was the news that the wiomen had aban 
dimed their Hispanic irumls. 

4(. I LARl'hK'S M.Ae-.AZlNH / M.ARi H I'W? 

turned up, accompanied by a hevy of TV news 
trucks. A newly invented newspaper, the 
Phoenix Journal, supplied badly needed infor- 
mation as well as tales of heroism, a platform 
from which to promote the survivors' cause, 

land a billboard for merchants eager to tempt 
these affluent homeless with everything from 
stress-relieving chiropractic to Turk- 

. ish kilims. 

People who had been burned out 

iiof their homes painted ceramic tiles 
to memorialize what they had lost: 
Grandma's fine china and the grand 
piano that went up in flames, the 
tabby cat that had gone missing, 
"the squirrels who used our telephone lines as 
a highway." A ten-year-old's tile contained 
just a single word: "Why?" The tiles, two thou- 
sand in all, were joined together in a mosaic 9 
feet high and 104 feet long, a memorial, dis- 
played at the BART station on College Av- 
enue, whose message carries an emotional 
punch akin to the AIDS quilt. 

Many of these new refugees saw their loss in 
almost mystical terms. Barely three weeks after 

■ the fire, Deirdre English, a onetime editor of 
Mother Jones, published an essay in a local 
weekly, the East Bay Express , describing how 

I she had "floated above the smoldering ruins in 
a state of effortless Zen detachment." The 
firestorm had swooped down upon her house, 
obliging her to flee for her life, abandoning 
every material possession as well as the manu- 
script of a book in progress. 

At first, she recalled, those material losses felt 
liberating, part of a new awareness that "attach- 
ment to things is a futile denial of death." But 
Zen masters live hardscrabble lives, and the 
East Bay hills weren't filled with the sound of 
one hand clapping. Very quickly, Deirdre Eng- 
lish sensed in herself the temptation to "start 
denying death all over again from the starting 
line: by madly consuming." In this 
she was not alone. 

tax codes and so rescue the former residents 
from the calamity of having to pay hundreds of 
millions of dollars in capital-gains taxes. 

When the refugees turned to local public 
agencies for emergency relief, they offered their 
suffering as proof of their worth and courage. 
They said, in effect, "We've been through hell. 

One resident published an essay describing 


Now we deserve all the help you can give us." 
But because California cities are routinely 
bankrupt, some of the demands could be ac- 
commodated only by subtracting services from 
the residents of the flatlands. 

In a city as racially segregated as Oakland, 
where the fire did its worst work, the fire sur- 
vivors' plaint reawakened long-abiding hostili- 
ties between the less-affluent majority who 
lived in the flats and those who lived in the 
hills. In a letter to the Oakland Tribune, flat- 
lander Joyce Owens-Smith insisted that she 
wouldn't pay "for people in the hills to have a 
clean, safe environment while 1 and the other 
poor, minority people live in squalor, aban- 
doned by the same government and corporate 
entities making this audacious request." 

Such thinkiiig wasn't well received at the 
higher elevations. "We've paid for their police 
protection and fire protection long enough," the 
prevailing argument went. "Now it's our turn." 
A group of hillside residents proposed seceding 


sexual division of labor asserted itself 
among the refugees. While the women mostly 
concentrated on keeping their families intact 
amid all the uncertainties — finding places to 
live and clothing to wear, swapping sorrows in 
emotional support groups — the men set out to 
engineer a new public order. They organized 
self-help groups, about fifty in all, known as 
Phoenix neighborhood associations. These new- 
ly minted activists weren't interested in reviving 
the barn-raising tradition of an earlier West, 
summoning the unscathed to pitch in and re- 
build what their neighbors had lost. Instead, 
they conceived their mission as one of persuad- 
ing state and federal politicians to amend the 



frcim Oakliiiid and founding a nov\' ciry named 
Tuscany. Oakland, it was said, was tanK)iis only 
fur "hascHall scores and murder counts." 

Flatlands residents recalled the scant atten- 
tion paid by government officials to the people 
made homeless hy the 1989 Loina Prieta earth- 
quake, and they rememhered bitterly that in 
1978 the precincts in Oakland that voted for 
Proposition 1 3, the initiative forcing Califor- 
nia's cities to cut property taxes, were situated in 
the hills. Now these same landowners were ap- 
pealing to the municipality they'd helped to 
bankrupt, asking and receiving help from a city 


with a reputation \or shabby public services. The 
bitterness of the flatlanders was ignored Retired 
Admiral Robert Toney, president of the Oak- 
land Chamber of Commerce, told the Mimtclari- 
on, a local paper, that the refugees were "a very 
desirable part of the population," leaving the 
flatlanders wondering just how the 
admiral regarded tht'ir presence. 

mates. The insurance companies responded b 
pointing to a handful of rapacious residents wh 
claimed they'd lost possessions, even entir 
floors of ht)uses, that in fact had never existed. 
Many homet)wners discovered after the fir 
that they carried woefully inadequate covei 
age — line policyholders' group named itself th 
Unexpectedly Underinsured Allstate Polic\ 
holders — but by drawing on the force of thei 
unified, well-connected voice, as well as on th 
support of the state's populist insurance commi- 
sioner, they wrung an astonishing concessit): 
from their insurers. Policies were upgrade^ 
retroactively, boosting th 
amount a homeowner couL 
recover by an average o 

As Deirdre English leamei 
the lessons of the diseinbodici 
spirit taught by the old Japan 
ese Zen masters translate^ 
with remarkable ease into th" 
Zen of insurance settlement! 
"Just when the fire experieno 
is encouraging you to detacl 
from worldly possessions, puri 
fy your intentions, and al 
that," she wrote, "the realpoli 
tik of your insurance polic 
rises up to inflame pride 
greed, guilt, and every othe 
unenlightened emotioii yoi 
can think of. 

"Experience the guilt, 
she counseled her fellov 
refugees — but still "fight fo 
your price." 

Once in receipt of their in 
surance settlements, most resi 
dents stopped participating ir 
the Phoenix neighborhood as 
sociations. Some householder 
wlm had been leaders in thei 
insurance groLips cut their own backroom deals 
agreeing not to reveal the terms of their settle 
ment to anyt^ne else in their own group. As tht 
checks began to roll in, the neighborhood associ 
ations collapsed, and the residents turned thei 
attention toward rebuilding what the\ 



had lost. 

_o the insurance companies the homeown- 
ers presented a united front, banding together, 
in groups with acronyms like FIRE and 
MIFFED, to negotiate bigger settlements. Insur- 
ance claims ran to $1.6 billion, nearly half a 
million dollars for each househt)ld. Property 
t)wners complained that claims adjusters were 
lowballing them, discounting their tlamage esti- 

n the slopes untouched by the hre, tht 
Berkeley and Oakland hills look the way the> 
did generations ago: pleasant homes, many ir 
the Arts and Crafts style that defined progres 
sive architecture in the early years of the cen- 
tury, situated amid informal gardens, framed b\ 
sycamores and eucalyptLises grown grand with 
age, on winding streets that encourage the 
sense of neighbiirliness. 

4s iiakpi:r'smac;azinh/ MARCH i^^)? 

That landscape didn't come about by lucky 
accident. It was the realization ot a philosophy 
about how houses, and entire neighborhoods, 
should be designed — a philosophy clearly set 
forth in a slim volume, published in 
1904 and titled The Simple Home, by 
a young Berkeley poet named 
Charles Keeler, who propounded 
what was for the time and place a 
radically different vision of home, a 
"simpler, a truer, a more vital art ex- 
pression." During the early decades 
of the century, this craftsman's ethos emerged 
in the designs of a new generation of Berkeley 
architects, among them Bernard Maybeck and 
Julia Morgan. 

Eight weeks after the hre of 1991, the resi- 
dents of the hills, with the assistance of local 
architects, published their own book. Commu- 
nity Voices, that laid out their "sense of the 
larger landscape." By and large the new plans 
matched Keeler's old metaphysical blueprint. 
Although the citizens suggested modest im- 
provements — sidewalks in some neighbor- 
hoods, more attractive street lighting in oth- 
ers — they placed their emphasis on restoring, 
in spirit if not in specifics, what had been con- 
sumed in the fire. 

What wasnt wanted had a specific name: 
Blackhawk. In that gated community twenty 
miles to the east, beyond the hills, homes, 
which cost an average of $600,000, run upwards 
of four thousand square feet. Their architecture 
tends toward the ersatz, and they are arranged 
with an eye to golf-course proximity rather than 
the natural patterns of the landscape. Black- 
hawk looks like all the Brobdingnags rising 
across America, where new houses keep getting 
bigger and contemporary means kitsch. 

In keeping with their reputation as exemplars 
of the nation's better self, the Berkeley refugees 
meant to prove themselves more visionary than 
the philistines of Blackhawk. Local architects 
hoped aloud that the onetime homeowners 
would do for a new generation as Maybeck and 
Morgan had done in the aftermath of a 1923 in- 
ferno, making a poetic correlation in time and 
space. Their circumstances provided them with 
a chance seldom available in a country where 
individually designed homes have become a rar- 
ity for middle-class families. Even for the well- 
to-do, building a new house usually comes 
down to a matter of choosing one of three ( ir 
four standardized models in a real estate devel- 
oper's catalogue. But the princely sums of insur- 
ance money that were paid out placed good ai- 
chitecture within reach of people who weren't 
Fortune 500 CEOs. "Here was an educated 
crowd," Berkeley architect Thaddeus Kusmiers- 
ki told me as we walked through the generously 

proportioned rooms of his new home, adapted 
from the plans of his Maybeck-designed house 
that had been incinerated. "Here were people 
with taste as well as money." 

After the fire, four residents in ten decided not 


Shortly after the fire, Christopher Alexan- 
der, a Berkeley architect and planner whose in- 
fluential book A Pattern Language offers pre- 
scriptions for timeless houses and entire cities 
alike, took up Charles Keeler's turn-of-the-cen- 
tury campaign for simple homes in soul-nurtur- 
ing neighborhoods. The Berkeley hills had 
been "an organic and precious thing," Alexan- 
der pointed out in a lengthy radio interview on 
KPFA-FM in Berkeley. WhUe those "lovely 
and informal places" had been leveled, the 
streets themselves, the stairway paths that 
climbed the hills, the foundations of houses — 
the vital patterns — all remained intact. 

"The idea at every point," Alexander said, 

"is to make a thing that has life by adding to 

and elaborating on its structure." The right 

course of action was to design new 

y^ homes to fit the footprints of the old. 


.et even as Alexander offered his counsel, 
homeowners were straying off the path of spiri- 
tual enlightenment. After the fire, four resi- 
dents in ten decided not to return, and many 
who came back did so because they believed 
that they had to rebuild in order to get the 
biggest possible insurance settlement. They 
weren't the kind of clients that architects refer 
to as "new home people," the ones who keep 
notebooks filled with sketches of their fantasy 
houses and file folders stuffed with articles from 
Metropolitan Home. They were "old home 
people," who knew little about architecture 
and were in no mood to learn. Even though 
they were nostalgic about the houses they'd 
lost, the very fact of suffering and loss led them 
to want — to believe that they were entitled 
to — more than they'd had. Their specifications, 
often based on casual conversations with 
friends or quick perusals of architectural maga- 
zines, tended to reflect the thoughtless hodge- 
podge that goes by the label "contemptirary": 
Gropius married to Colonial, Palladian win- 
dows affixed to medieval turrets. 

Hundreds of architects and as many con- 
tractors have labored to remake the hillsides 
over the past five years, and the result is a 
muddic. Lacking the kind of shared aesthetic 


derived from a cmnmon culture, unaware iif 
what haJ ^one into the design ot the huih 
landscape o\ the IuIKsilIcs, ni.iny residents 
equaled "Ix'tter" with hi)L^.tj;er and fancier, and 
then new homes featiue tour and five I'lath- 
riioms, three- anil tour-car garajjes, elouhle 
tront doors that helonj^ in an expense-account 
restaurant. The peoi'ije who huilt smaller 
houses, respecttui of the historic scale ot the 
neighhorhood, found themscKes with what ap- 
pear to he the cahanas ot the monster houses 
that literally overshatlow them. 

Slime architects treated the tlama^'ed land- 
scape as a hlank pa^e on which to doodle ec- 



centric fantasies. None went ahout this task 
more exuherantly than Ace Architects, a local 
firm thai for one fire-:one client radically 
reconceived a Bernard Mayheck chapel, sup- 
plying the t)ri^inal design with acid-washed 
copper fish scales on its sides and a halct)ny 
modeled after a haskethall hoop. For another 
client, a ja::, the firm provideel a resi- 
dence painted in Day-C)Io coK)rs, with a mej^a- 
chimney that mimics the curved hell ot a mam- 
moth saxophone and twin stair towers shaped 
like trumpets tooting at the sky. 

Ace Architects reservei.1 the most elarini; of 
its plans — "a house that was really nhinit the 
tire!" — for David Roth, a youn^ attorney with 
a professed fondness tor new ideas and a hand- 
some insurance settlement, part ot which had 
^one to purchasing a Ie\'el lot with a fiiie 
\'iew. Ace partner Dav'iel Wein^arteti recog- 
nized him as the perfect client for his ouii in- 
cendiary vision. 

Anel what a \ision! The shell t)t a concrete 
harhecue would remain, "like Crecian ruins," 
Weinj^arten told me when I visited his hi:arre 
otiice huildiiiL;, duhhei-I the Lex'iathan, near 
the Oakland waterfront. The house itself 
would he matle up of three separate huildin^s, 
each emhodyini.; a different moment in posx- 
lire history: a tower made of copper, which 
would e\entiiall\' hiacken fi> take on a charred 
ap|XMiaiice aiul thus recall the period immedi- 
ately after the inlerini, v\hen chimneys stood 
out from the landseape; a rectangle clad in ply- 
wood left deliherately roiii^h to symbolize the 
priicess ol rehuildiim; and a stuccoed structure 
tacini; the street, lookini; more or less like a 
traditional home, ihou''h with Pesjasiis-like 

winf:;s. Surely such a residence was destined t. 
the pages of Architectural Digest. 

The work oi construction, however, force, 
artistic compromise. The old harhecue, Wein 
garten's "Grecian ruins," had to he remove- 
when a rieighhor's ct)ntractor hacked into i 
with a tractor. The three parts of the hous 
were physically joined, collapsing the concep 
tual stages of post-tire history. The plywoo. 
box looks less like an unfinished coiistructioi 
than an tirdinary wooden rectangle. While th 
copper tower remains, it's by no means unicjut 
towers are everywhere iii the burn zone, tlv 
new design cliche. As seen from the street, tin 
most distincti\e features of Davu 
Roth's residence are those wings. It' 
no longer a house with a story line 
but one that looks ready to fly away. 
Just a few lots down the stree 
from Roth's house in Oakland, Stan 
ley Saitowitz, the architect responsi 
hie tor Michael Lesser's submarine 
run-aground, produced a loin 
narrow building and dressed it in aluminun 
squares t)f silver and gray. Some neighbors cal 
it the Air Stream, and it does resemble those 
vintage 1950s trailers. To others it's a sardim 
tin whose lid, a roof that swotips skyward, ha*- 
come partway t)ff. Around the corner sits i 
massive steel structure that l(H)ks like a Silicoi 
Valley semiconductor plant. 

Such buildings would stick out almost any 
where. They're especially nt)ticeable in i 
neighborhood where most of the residents, t)ld 
er people who have lived there for years, optec 
to build versions, albeit somewhat bigger, o 
the pleasant homes they'd occupied before the 
fire. When an Air Stream house and a wingec 
tower-house suddenly appear, it's as if stranger; 
had crashed their garden party and upset a 
the furniture. 

L")avii.I Roth wanted his new neighbtirs tc 
like his house. He showeel them the model 
hoping they'd be reassured, hut its strang( 
shapes only made them angrier. The old resi- 
dents wanted things to be as they had been 
with a Swiss-style chalet, circa 1910, recon 
structed on the site, not a pyrotechnical folly. 

"Nexer has anyone been eiuite so rude to mt 

m all my lite," said Roth last summer, shaking 

his IkmlI at the memory as we walked through 

his still-tinlmished house. C'onsidering that 

he makes his lixing as a lawyer 

that's saying a great deal. 



'oxes, monster liouses, motels, 
"houses on steroids," "mushrooms springing up 
in charcoal," "factories," "trailers," "visual indi 
gestion," "icons of kitschitecture" — there's no 
end to the catalogue of insults, printable and 

so I i.Auriu's M.\i;.-\/iNi; / maiu 1 1 i^>'i7 

otherwise, appended to these new constructit)ns. 
An inviting hillside of winding roads, thick fo- 
liage, and informal houses has been transformed, 
at a cost of more than a billion dollars, inti) the 
kind of place that nobody supposedly wanted — a 
variation on the grandiose 
I theme of Blackhawk, the im- 
pact of excess only magnified 
by the denuded landscape. 

If any corner of the burn 
zone should by rights have es- 
caped so dismal a fate, it's the 
Berkeley neighborhood where 
Michael Lesser lives with his 
fire-made 360-degree view. 
Elsewhere in the hills people 
reported meeting their neigh- 
'bors tor the first time as they 
picked through the wreckage, 
but the families who lived 
near the intersection of Al- 
varado and Vicente roads 
iwere hardly strangers. They 
had keys to one another's 
houses; they gossiped about, 
and would say they looked out 
for, one another. Over the 
years, some of them had be- 
come intimate friends. They 
were drawn together as well 
by the recognition that they 
lived in an ecologically fragile 
place that obliged them to act 
together as a neighborhood. In 1978 several of 
these families joined in the purchase of three 
acres of land in the middle oi the neighbor- 
hood, preserving a swath of open space as a 
"sacred place." 

The rules for designing new homes estab- 
lished by the Berkeley planning commission af- 
ter the 1991 fire seemed tailor-made for this lit- 
tle group of neighbors. Berkeley normally 
requires a public hearing before issuing a build- 
ing permit, even if no one objects to the plan 
(a facet of Berkeley-style socialism, hfe in a 
world of endless meetings), but in a rush of 
sympathy for the refugees, this requiremeiit was 
waived. Residents were made .sovereign, given 
the authority to pass judgment on their neigh- 
bors' designs. 

The lower stretches of Alvarado Road were 
untouched by the fire, biit as the road makes a 
wide curve half a mile or ,so into the hills, ibu 
trees and underbrush abruptly disappear. The 
rambling, three-story stticco bouse owned by 
Toni Garrett and her husband, CJene Farb, 
straddles that border. The firestorm leveled 
their detached garage, destroyed their land- 
scaping, and to.ssed burning embers onto their 
slate roof, but the bouse itself survived. 

Even as construction began all around them, 
the Farbs put off their own rebuilding. They 
were busy shoring up their financially troubled 
business. Whole Earth Access, a chain of stores 
imbued with the Zen-ish philosophy of Stewart 

HAVILi ROl hi ^ imU^E 

Brand's Whole Earth Catalog. Besides, their 
house was intact, and so they didn't feel the 
same urgencies as those who had been burned 
out. Although they had been among the last 
families to move into the neighborhood, they 
were glad to serve as nurturers to the newly dis- 
possessed. After the fire, a once and future 
neighbor was often on the premises, sharing an 
impromptu meal, swapping notes about chil- 
dren, discu.ssing plans for rebuilding. 

It was natural, Toni Garrett tiild me as we sat 
in her reinvented garden, that she and her hus- 
band would take on "deep feelings for everyone 
else's losses." In a world suddenly tisstu'ed be- 
tween those whose bouses were destroyed and 
those whose houses still stood, all attention 
flowed to the victims of fate. 

"It was strange, being here when all your 
friends had lost everything," Toni Garrett said. 
She felt a little guilty — why me.' she won- 
dered — and a little envicnis as well. "I need a 
hre," she caught herself thinking. "I neeil an ex- 
cuse to start civer." Confronted with neighbors' 
decisiiins about their new homes that she re- 
garded as mistaken and damaging, she felt si- 
lenced, fearful of rebuke. What i.lid she, scarcely 

singeel rierse 

If, know about life after h 



Betcire the cunfla^ration, the Farhs' ccnntort- 
ahle hcnne had been the hi^^est in the nei^h- 
horhcHid. No lon^^er. Acnxss tlie street the resi- 
dence o\ Michael and Deborah Lesser ,urew, 
story by story, o\'er two lon^ years ot construc- 
tion, a Berhn Wall shuttin^^ ott the old troin 
the new. The neij^hbors mostly despise it, ani.1 
even architect Stanley Saitowit: has scarcely a 
i^ood wiird tor the result of his own desit^n. 
"The idea in the be^inniiiL; was to build some- 
thing modest," he said when 1 spoke with him 
in his modernist San Francisco office, "but 
Michael kept wantinj^ to add more — an extra 
room on the side of the house, a couple of 
ri)oms downstairs, places rhar ciiuld be rentei.1 
out. Thouf^h his old house was generic Arts 
and Crafts, nothing,' remarkable architecturally, 
he convinced the insurance company it was 

Drager, a New York emigre, a vascular sui 
fijeon, and the mother ot two teenagers, saw th 
building of a house as her one chance to he ' 
patroness of architecture." The media grante 
her wish: the architectural magazines piled o 
her living-room coffee table contain an antho 
ogy ot adulatory articles, chief among thai 
Paul Goldberger's 1995 New York Times Sunda 
Ma,5«~()U' essay, "The Masterpieces They Ca 
Home," which canonizes "the Drager House" a 
if it were Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater." 
"The house looks like me," Sharon Drag 
said last summer as we walked from room t 
room, the walls as deliberately out of plumb i 
those in a HalKiween house of horrors. "It's a 
edgy house for an edgy owner." Seen in the ai 
chitectural magazines, the Drager House appeal 
to stanel alone, as it m a sculpture garden. Bi 
the photographs effectively elim 
inate the rest of the neighboi 
hood. Across the street there's 
standard-issue suburban res 
dence, built on spec by a con 
tractor. Next door another hous 
will soon be built, so to th 
Drager home that the distinctly 
side view ot Frank Israel's design 
the one celebrated in the archi 
tecture magazines 


will Llisappear. 

SHAIU)', I ■! 

the Parthenon, ani.1 so he had the money to i^lo 
what he wanted." 

The Lessers' house is the most obvious but 
not the only Llisturbance in the neighbiirhoiid. 
A few doors down on the other side of Vicente 
Roai.1, where before the tire a rambling 1924 
masonry anel wood-rrinimcLl home once stooel, 
an outsize stucco and copper-chKl ship's prow 
now looms o\'er the street. Sharon IVager's 
new residence, 4,500 square feet on three lev- 
els, with, six bathrooms and a separate suite iov 
the housekee]^er, carries the rrai_lemark tics ot 
the late, i^iuintessentially L.A. architect Frank 
Israel, and bears no relation to the northern 
C'alitornia terrain. 

hen the Farbs had bee 
asked to approve their neigh 
bors' designs for rebuilding, the 
never once raised an objection 
The Lessers' house, across th 
street, was too big, they felt; thi 
tower on the new Tuscan-styh 
home ot their next-door neigh 
bors, the Walrods, too impos 
mg. Biit those people had suf 
tered enough. Whatever the 
wanted to do was fine. Yet wher 
it was the Farbs' turn to seel 
the approval of their neighbor 
tor their own modest rebuilding of a garag( 
and game riH)m, Michael Lesser vetiied the de 
sign. It was bad eni)ugh from his point of view 
that someday the pine trees, planted at th( 
suggestion ot a feng shui practitioner, would in 
trude on the Lessers' newly attained view. Blii 
it was definitely unacceptable that the Farbs 
plans called for a structure six feet higher thar 
the okl garage. 

Michael Lesser makes a dogged and unpleas 
ant adversary. A few years before the fire, he 
had complained thar his then neighbor ha^ 
built an extension to his home a tew feet be 
yon^l the legal setback and demanded, noisiK 
it fruitlessly, that it be torn down. Lesser's ob- 

1 lARPI-K's MA( ;A/IN1-: / MARi :l I 1^7 

jections to the Farbs' garage, coming at the last 
possible moment after nine months of plan- 
ining, presented a major inconvenience. At 
first Toni Garrett was "angry enough to slug it 
out," but after a few weeks of reflection, she 
iand her husband decided that they "weren't 
linclined to pursue struggles." 

Construction was postponed, and the archi- 
•tect went back to the drawing board. Several 
imonths and several thousand dollars later, a 
new design emerged. Toni Garrett wrote to 
the Lessers, asking them to help de- 
fray the added cost, but they 'never 
responded, and the Farbs were un- 
willing to press the matter further. 
Too much trouble, they believed, 
too much bad karma. Besides, the 
Lessers' daughter had grown up with 
their son. They didn't want adults' 
arguments to complicate their children's lives. 

Not long after the Lessers moved into their 
new home, Toni Garrett organized a fiftieth- 
birthday party for Deborah Lesser. She'd set- 
tled into her new home, Deborah told her 
neighbors, even though its austere geometries 
j didn't offer a single cjuiet corner where late at 
night she could curl up with a book. She want- 
led to stay there forever. She'd had a garden 
ibefore the fire, Deborah reminded her friends, 
jiand it was time tci start a new one. She'd really 
.appreciate the gift of a tree, something that 
would grow with the new house, and so the 
neighbors gave her gift certificates to pay for 

The months slip into years, and the land- 
scaping still isn't done. The Lessers' property 
remains unkempt. They can't see the ugliness 
from their own house, so acutely angled are 
their windows. But Toni Garrett and Gene 
Farb see it and recoil every time they look 
across the street, and so does 
y everyone else who passes by. 


hen so much that was once neighbor- 
ly has been commercialized — when even the 
Welcome Wagon, tmce a simple gesture of 
community goodwill, now trades on that 
goodwill to shill for local merchants — only 
the terminally naive will be shocked by the 
turn of events in the Berkeley hills. At the 
outset, the residents who survived the Fire of 
1991 believed that they could do better — be- 
lieved that they could be better — than this. 
"It could have been a real Utopia," writer Je- 
remy Lamer ruefully told me as we wiilkec-l 
this misbegotten terrain. But over time they 
have demonstrated that this aspiration was 
sheer hubris — that, beyond raiding the public 
treasury for welfare assistance by ancither 
name, the idea of the public interest was 

meaningless and civic virtue beyt)nd their 
lines of sight. 

Eighteen months after the firestorm, a local 
contractor became embroiled in a venomous 
dispute with four families, refugees from the 
fire whti had rebuilt and ni)w were irate that 
the $849,000 house the ct)ntractor was build- 
ing on spec would destroy their views. (In the 
hills, views affect property values. Local real- 
tors calculate the value of a bay view at 
$25,000 per bridge.) 

For the residents of the Berkeley hills who survived 

the fire, the idea of public interest proved meaningless, 

and civic virtue was beyond their lines of sight 

"This is more than a legal issue," one resident 
on his way to the courthouse told a Phoenix 
Journal reporter. "It's a community issue." 

"We're living in America," the contractor 
responded. "I can build what I want." 

Fire-damaged people, struggling to take care 
of themselves after a great loss, have in the 
process done even greater damage, to them- 
selves as well as to others. "I'm entitled to get 
everything that's coming to me," the survivors 
of the fire typically said, and the rest of this 
thought, although usually left unspoken, was 
implicit in their deeds. "Neighbors, planners, 
government officials: don't get in my way while 
I'm getting what's mine." 

Much of what has happened since 1991 
bears witness to the triumph of selfishness: im- 
mense and ugly structures designed without a 
care for context or consanguinity, neighbors 
who coexist amid smoldering resentments, 
neighborhoods that combine the most outmod- 
ed features of the old with the grotesqueries of 
the new, a twice-scarred hillside, and a polity 
missing in action. The Phoenix neighborhood 
groups and their good intentions faded away, as 
did the secessionist fantasy of a new enclave 
called Tuscany. People concentrated instead 
on building up the walls that surround their 
gated private lives. 

Tiiday some houses still stand in a state of 
perpetual incompletion, their missing win- 
dows and walls mute testimony to the miscal- 
culations of contractors who overbuilt in 
hopes of making fast and easy money. There 
are, as well, occupied houses whose imbuilt 
stt ps, unlandscaped yards, and unfinished ex- 
terior surfaces suggest an insurance settlement 
not quite rich enough for the blueprints in 
hand. In the burn zone, although the views 
are wondrous, "for sale" signs are now more 
plentiful than trees. m 


A N 


One lobbyist's attempt to transruj 

It's just no fiin being a foreign lobbyist now that the Cold War is 
over. Congressional cuts to foreign aid have deprived many of 
America's former allies in the holy war against Communism of 
the means to retain the very Beltway lobbyists who press the 
U.S. government tor more aid. In such a disagreeable climate, 
lobbyists — like attorneys who troll emergency rooms and traffic 
courts — must drum up business at the scene ot a disaster. Hence, 
just ten days after the U.S. Department of Labor revealed plans 
to investigate the use of child labor in the Philippines, that 
country's embassy received this solicitation from Tony Smith of 
Schmeltzer, Aptaker & Shepard. Although the Washington, 
D.C., law firm doesn't represent other foreign goveniments, it is 
well suited to explaining away the Philippines' use of child labor. 
Here at home, Schmeltzer, Aptaker & Shepard advises compa- 
nies fending off unions or accused of exposing workers to toxins. 

Note Smith's ingratiating remark about being "surprised to hear" 
that the Philippines was to be investigated for child labor — as if 
Smith, who before moving to Washington in early 1996 served 
as Alaska's commissioner of commerce, had even the vaguest 
notion about the incidence of child labor in that country. If he 
had, Smith wouldn't be surprised at all. The government in 
Manila acknowledges that 3.7 million children work, 2 million 
of them in hazardous conditions. In garment sweatshops, on sug- 
ar plantations, and in the rattan-furniture industry, Filipino kids 
toil up to eleven hours a day for less than $3 and are sometimes 
paid only in food. But while the words "child labor" provoke 
moral outrage in most. Smith's response is merely Pavlovian: a 
potential client is in trouble, the scent of money is in the air. 

With equal parts candor and oil, Smith makes his case: "This is 
a major issue for the Clinton Administration" translates to, 
"You've got a problem that requires my services." Smith knows 
that few issues disgust American consumers more than child la- 
bor, which puts the Philippines in a delicate position. The U.S. 
provides the country with nearly $50 million a year in econom- 
ic aid, only one-tenth ot what it received during the Cold War 
but still making it the third-largest recipient ii^ Asia. The U.S. 
alst) buys $2 billion worth ot Filipino goods annually, more 
than one-third of the country's total exports. Moreover, as a 
developing nation, the Philippines receives special trade privi- 
leges that allow its exports to enter the U.S. tariff-free — privi- 
leges that depend on offering workers "internationally recog- 
nized rights," including a ban on child labor. Indeed, as Smith 
penned this letter, the U.S. Trade Representative was deciding 
whether the growing incidence of child labor, as well as offi- 
cially sanctioned anti-unii>n activities in government-run ex- 
port zones, merited stripping the Philippines of its trade status. 

Ken Silrcntcin is co-editor o/ Cduntcrpunch, a 
Waihin^um-hascd investigative newsletter. His last 
Annotation for Harper's Magazine, "Flacking for 
Despots," appeared in the August 1995 issue. 


I O N 


ir into dollars, by Ken Silverstein 

Admire the ease with which Smith tcisses out his Beltway con- 
nections and suggests his ahiUty to get things done. Here he 
touts his supposed access to Gare Smith, head of child labor is- 
sues at the State Department, whose effort Tony Smith pledges 
to "redirect." Later, Smith claims that his "excellent relation- 
ships" with the AFL-CIO will enable him to "neutralize" the 
federation's efforts to push the administration to crack down on 
child labor abroad. But Smith appears to have inflated his stand- 
ing to impress his would-be client. His relationship with the 
AFL-CIO (aside from working for a firm that boasts of union 
busting) seems limited to modest donations the federation made 
to Smith's unsuccessful 1992 and 1994 congressional campaigns. 
The lifespan of his loyalty is in keeping with the mores of Wash- 
ington, where allies are peddled for influence and former con- 
tributors can't compete with potential clients. Asked for com- 
ment on Smith, an AFL-CIO official said, "Smith doesn't have 
close ties here. In fact, he has no relationship at all." Touche. 

'■ ^"' 'ne private 
•''e Phillipuie Go 

ppropriaie ivay. "i« tfle dynamics that are 



'"oiy Smith 

Perhaps recognizing that his credentials are insufficient to land 
such a client, Smith adds a spinner to his line: P.R. practitioner 
and chum Bobby Watson, with whom he works on another ac- 
count, representing commercial fisheries in Alaska. The State 
Affairs Company, where Watson is a partner, is a public-rela- 
tions firm that represents domestic as well as foreign clients, in- 
cluding the government of Cambodia, the Democratic National 
Committee, and Philip Morris. Watson is a former top-level 
aide to Virginia Senator Charles Robb who resigned after being 
implicated in a wiretap scandal involving the collection of dirt 
on Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, then Robb's No. 1 polit- 
ical enemy. Watson deftly moved from a plea bargain in that 
case to a job as chief of staff for the DNC, and then on to a lu- 
crative career in P.R. In 1996, Campaigns arid Elections magazine 
named him one of the "Rising Stars of American Politics." 

According to Smith, the embassy's labor attache recommended 
that his government retain Smith and Watson, but two factors 
are working against the deal: At the time Smith made his pitch, 
the Philippines was spending $2.3 million on seven other lobby 
shops that do everything from touching up the country's hu- 
man-rights record to seeking a greater U.S. market share for Fil- 
ipino exports. Perhaps they lobbied on child labor too: three 
weeks after Smith sent this letter, the U.S. decided to give the 
Philippines time to improve its record on child labor and re- 
newed its trade privileges. Too bad, Tony — but don't fret. 
About 250 million children work around the globe, from Kenya 
to Brazil to India, and as long as U.S. consumers insist on third- 
world prices and first-world labor practices, the dynamic that 
caused the Philippines to be treated "in an inappropriate way" 
will generate an endless supply of clients. Back to the chase! 




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Fortune's Child 

CVaham Greene 

Hotel America 

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Meeting at Por'^daIn 

Money and I 'la^^ 
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B}' Steven Millhauser 


hen we learned that 
Hensch, the knife thrower, 
was stopping in our town for 
a single performance at eight 
o'clock on Saturday night, we 
hesitated, wondering what we 
felt. Hensch, the knife throw- 
er! Did we feel like clapping 
our hands for joy, like leaping 
to our feet and bursting into 
smiles of anticipation? Or did 
we, after all, want to tighten 
our lips and look away with 
stern, disapproving expres- 
sions? That was Hensch tor 
you. For if Hensch was an ac- 
knowledged master of his art, 
that difficult and faintly un- 
savory art about which we 
knew very little, it was also 
true that he bore with him 
certain disturbing rumors, 
which we reproached our- 
selves for having failed to 
heed sufficiently when they 
appeared from time to time 
in the arts section of the SLin- 
day paper. 

Hensch, the knife thrower! Of 
course we knew his name. Everyone 
knew his name, as one knows the 
name of a famous chess player or 

Steven Millhauser h the author of Martin 
Dressier, the Tale of an American Dream- 
er, which woi a National Book Award final- 
ist in Fiction. His last story for Harper's 
Magazine, "The Sisterhood ofNinht," aji- 
peared in the July 1994 issue. 

magician. What we couldn't be sure 
of was what he actually did. Dimly 
we recalled that the skill of his 
throwing liad brought him early at- 
tention bur that it wasn't until he 
had changed the rules entirely that 
Ik' was taken up in a serious way. 
He had stepped boldly, some said 
recklessly, over a line never before 
crossed by knife throwers, and had 

managed to make a reputa- 
tion out of a disreputable 
thing. Some of us seemed to 
recall reading that in his 
early carnival days he had 
wounded an assistant badly; 
after a six-month retire- 
ment he had returned with 
his new act. It was then 
that he had introduced into 
the chaste discipline of 
knife throwing the idea of 
the artful wound, the mark 
of blood that was the mark 
of the master. We had even 
heard that among his fol- 
lowers there were many, 
young women especially, 
who longed to be wounded 
by the master and to bear 
his scar proudly. If rumors 
of this kind were disturbing 
to us, if they prevented us 
from celebrating Hensch's 
arrival with innocent de- 
light, we nevertheless ac- 
knowledged that withiHit 
such dubious enticements 
we'd have been unlikely to attencf 
the performance at all, since the art 
of knife throwing, for all its appar- 
ent danger, is really a tame art, an 
outmoded art — little more than a 
quaint old-tashioned amusement in 
these times of ours. The only knife 
throwers any of us had ever set#n 
were in the circus sideshow or the 
carnival ten-in-one, along with the 

Photographs hy Arulrt-w Mnorc, courtesy Yantry KiLhardsoii (.iallrry 


tar lady an^l the liuman skclctim. Ir 
must, vvf unaj^ined, have galled 
Hensch to tee! himself a freak 
amiing freaks; he must have needed 
a way nut. Fiir wasn't he an artist, in 
his fashion.' And so we admired his 
darin.y, e\'cn as we deplorei.1 his 
method and despise^l him as a vul- 
]L,'ar showman; we questioned the ru- 
mors, tried to recall what we knew 
of him, interrogated ourselves re- 
lentlessly. Some of us dreamed of 
him: a monkey of a man in checkei.1 
pants and a red hat, a stern 
officer in glistening hoots. 
The promotional mailings 
showed only a knife held hy 
a gloved hani^l. Is it surpris- 
ing we didn't kninv 
what to feel.' 


^ ^.t eight o'clock precise 
ly, Hensch walked onto the 
stage: a hrisk unsmiling man in 
hlack tails. His entrance sur- 
prised us. For although most of 
us had heen seated since halt 
past sexen, others were still ar- 
riving, moving down the aisles, 
pushing past half-turned knees 
into squeaking seats. In fact 
we were so accustomed to de- 
lays tor latecimrers that an 
8:00 performance was under- 
stood to mean one that hegan 
at 8:10 or even 8:15. As 
Hensch strode across the stage, 
a husy no-nonsense man, 
hlack-haired and hald-topped, 
we didn't know whether we 
admired him tor his supreme indiffer- 
ence to our noises of settling in or 
disliked him for his refusal to counte- 
nance the slightest delay. He walked 
quickly across the stage to a waist- 
high tahle on which rested a ma- 
hogany ho\. He wore no gloves. At 
the opposite corner iif the stage, in 
the rear, a hlack wooden partition hi- 
sected the stage walls. Hensch 
stepped hehind his ho,\ an^l opened it 
to re\'eal a glitter of kni\'es. At this 
moment a v\oman in a loose-tlowmg 
white gown steppe^l in front of the 
dark partition. Her pale hair was 
pulled tightly hack an^l she carried a 
silver howl. 

While the latecomers among us 
whispered their way past knees and 
coats, anel slipjied guiltily into their 

seats, the woman tace^i us anel 
reached into her hi)wl. From it she 
removed a white hoiip ahout the size 
of a dinner plate. She held it up and 
turned it from side to side, as if tor 
our inspection, while Hensch lifted 
from his hox halt a dozen knives. 
Then he stepped to the side at the 
tahle. He held the six knives fanwfse 
in his left hand, with the hiades 
pointirig up. The knives were ahout a 
toot long, the hiades shaped like 
eloniiated tliamonds, and as he stood 

there at the side of the stage, a man 
with no expression on his face, a man 
with nothing to do, Hensch had the 
vacant and slightly hored look of an 
overgrown hoy holding in one hand 
an awkward present, waiting patient- 
ly tor someone to open a door. 

With a gentle motion the woman 
in the white gown tossed the hoop 
lightly in the air in front of the black 
wooden partition. Suddenly a knife 
sank deep into the soft wood, catch- 
ing the hoop, which hung swinging 
on the handle. Before we could de- 
cii.le whether or not to applaud, the 
woman tosseel another white hoop. 
Hensch littei.1 an^l threw in a single 
swift smooth motion, and the second 
hoop hung swinging from the second 
knife. After the third hoop rose in 

the air and hung suddenly on a knif 
handle, the woman reached into he 
howl and held up for our inspection 
smaller hoop, the size of a saucei 
Hensch raised a knife and caught th 
flying hoop cleanly against the wooc 
She next tossed two small hoops on 
after the other, which Hensch caugh 
in two swift motions: the first at th 
top of its trajectory, the second nea 
the middle of the partition. 

We watched Hensch as he picke 
up three more knives and sprea 
them tanwise in his left hant 
He stood staring at his assi: 
tant with fierce attention, h 
hack straight, his thick han 
resting hy his side. When sh 
tossed three small hoops, on 
after the other, we saw h 
hody tighten, we waited fc 
the thunk-thunk-thunk c 
knives in wood, but he stoo 
immobile, gazing sternly. Th 
hoops struck the flooi 
bounced slightly, and bega 
rolling like big dropped coir 
across the stage. Hadn't h 
liked the throw? We felt lik 
lookiiig away, like pretendin 
we hadn't noticed. Nimbi 
the assistant gathered th 
rolling hoops, then assume 
her position by the blac 
wall. She seemed to take 
deep breath before she tosse 
again. This time Hensc 
flung his three knives wit 
extraordinary speed, and sue 
denly we saw all three hoo| 
swinging on the partition, the lai 
mere inches from the floor. She mc 
tioned grandly toward Hensch, wh 
did not bow; we burst into vigorot 

Again the woman in the whit 
gown reached into her bowl, an 
this time she held up something b( 
tween her thumb and forefinger thi 
even those of us in the first row 
could not immediately make ou 
She stepped fiirward, and many of i 
recognized, between her fingers, a 
orange-and-black butterfly. She re 
turned to the partition and looked i 
Hensch, who had already chosen h 
knife. With a gentle tossing gestui 
she released the butterfly. We bur; 
into applause as the knife drove th 
butterfly against the wood, whei 

SS I lARl^ER'S M.A( iAZINfc / MARL'H 1^)')7 

hose in the front rows could see the 
I'ings helplessly heating. 

That was something we hadn't 
een before, or even imagined we 
aight see, something worth remem- 
lering; and as we applauded we tried 
o recall the knite throwers of our 
hildhood, the smell of sawdust 
nd cotton candy, the glittering 
woman on the turning 

As if in answer to our secret impa- 
tience, Hensch strode decisively to 
his corner of the stage. Quickly the 
pale-haired assistant followed, push- 
ing the table after him. She next 

the bareness of her skin, disturbingly 
LHihidden, dangerously white and 
cool and soft. 

Quickly the glittering assistant 
stepped to the second table at the 



ow the woman in white re- 
Qoved the knives from the black 
•artition and carried them across the 
tage to Hensch, who examined each 
ine closely and wiped it with a cloth 
lefore returning it to his box. 

Abruptly, Hensch strode to the 
enter of the stage and turned to 
ace us. His assistant pushed the 
able with its box of knives to his 
ide. She left the stage and returned 
:ushing a second table, which she 
laced at his other side. She stepped 
way, into half-darkness, while the 
i.ghts shone directly on Hensch and 
lis tables. We saw him place his left 
land palm up on the empty table- 
op. With his right hand he removed 

knife from the box on the first 
able. Suddenly, without looking, he 
ossed the knife straight up into the 
ir. We saw it rise to its rest and 
ome hurtling down. Someone cried 
at as it struck his palm, but Hensch 
aised his hand from the table and 
eld it up for us to see, turning it 
rst one way and then the other: the 
mife had struck between the fingers. 
Jiensch lowered his hand over the 
nife so that the blade stuck up be- 
\veen his second and third fingers, 
le tossed three more knives into the 
ir, one after the other: rat-a-tat-tat 
ney struck the table. From the shad- 
ws the woman in white stepped for- 
'ard and tipped the table toward us, 
D that we could see the four knives 
:icking between his fingers. 

Oh, we admired Hensch, we were 
jaken with the man's fine daring; and 
et, as we pounded out our applause, 
j'e felt a little restless, a little dissatis- 
ed, as if some unspoken promise had 
liled to be kept. For hadn't we been a 
ifle ashamed of ourselves for atten^l- 
ig the performance, hadn't we de- 
lored in advance his unsavory antics, 
is questionable crossing of the line.^ 

Oh, we admired hensch, we were taken with 
the man's eine daring; and yet we eelt restless, 
as if some unspoken promise had not been kept 

shifted the second table to the hack 
of the stage and returned to the 
black partition. She stood with her 
back against it, gazing across the 
stage at Hensch, her loose white 
gown hanging from thin shoulder 
straps that had slipped down to her 
upper arms. At that moment we felt 
in our arms and along our backs a 
first faint flutter of anxious excite- 
ment, for there they stood before us, 
the dark master and the pale maid- 
en, like figures in a dream from 
which we were trying to awake. 

Hensch chose a knife and raised it 
beside his head with deliberation; 
we realized that he had worked very 
quickly before. With a swift sharp 
drop of his forearm, as if he were 
chopping a piece of wood, he re- 
leased the knife. At first we thought 
he had struck her upper arm, but we 
saw that the blade had sunk into the 
wood and lay touching her skin. A 
second knife struck beside her other 
upper arm. She began to wriggle 
both shoulders, as if to free herself 
from the tickling knives, and only as 
her loose gown came ripplmg down 
did we realize that the knives had 
cut the shoulder straps. Hensch had 
us now, he had us. Long-legged and 
smiling, she stepped from the fallen 
gown and stood before the black 
partition in a spangled silver leo- 
tard. We thought of tightrope walk- 
ers, bareback riders, hot circus tents 
on blue summer days. The pale yel- 
low hair, the spangled cloth, the 
pale skin touched here and there 
with shadow, all this gave her the 
remote, enclosed look of a work of 
art, while at the same time it lent 
her a kind of cool voluptuousness, 
for the metallic glitter of her cos- 
tume seemed to draw attention to 

back of the stage and removed some- 
thing from the drawer. She returned 
to the center of the wooden parti- 
tion and placed on her head a red 
apple. The apple was so red and 
shiny that it looked as if it had been 
painted with nail polish. We looked 
at Hensch, who stared at her and 
held himself very still. In a single 
motion Hensch lifted and threw. 
She stepped out from under the red 
apple stuck in the wood. 

From the table she removed a sec- 
ond apple and clenched the stem 
with her teeth. At the black parti- 
tion she bent slowly backward until 
the bright red apple was above her 
upturned lips. We could see the col- 
umn of her trachea pressing against 
the skin of her throat and the knobs 
of her hips pushing up against the 
silver spangles. Hensch took careful 
aim and flung the knife through the 
heart of the apple. 

Next from the table she removed 
a pair ot long white gloves, which 
she pulled on slowly, turning her 
wrists, tugging. She held up each 
tight-gloved hand in turn and wrig- 
gled the fingers. At the partition she 
stood with her arms out and her fin- 
gers spread. Hensch looked at her, 
then raised a knife and threw; it 
stuck into her fingertip, the middle 
fingertip of her right hand, pinning 
her to the black wall. 

The woman stared straight ahead. 
Hensch picked up a clutch of knives 
and held them fanwise in his left 
hand. Swiftly he flung nine knives, 
one after the other, and as they 
struck her fingertips, one after the 
other, bottom to top, right-left, 
right-left, we stirred uncomfortably 
in our seats. In the sudden silence 
she stood there with her arms out- 


spread and her tinjjers full cit knives, 
her silver span<^les thishin^, her 
white f^U)ves whiter than her pale 
arms, Knikin^ as if at any numient 
her head would drop forward — look- 
ing for all the world like a martyr on 
a cross. Then slowly, gently, she 
piillet.1 each hand from its glove, 
lea\ing the gloves hang- 
ing on the wall. 


I o\v Hensch gave a sharp wave 
of his fingers, as if to dismiss every- 
thing that had gone before, and to 
our surprise the woman stepped for- 
ward to the edge of the stage and ad- 
dressed us for the first time. 

"I must ask you," she said gently, 
"to he very quiet, because this next 
act is very dangerous. The master 
will mark me. Please do not make a 
.sound. We thank you." 

She returned to the black parti- 
tion and simply stood there, her 
shoulders back, her arms down but 
pressed against the wood. She gazed 
steadily at Hensch, who seemed to 
be studying her; some of us said later 
that at this moment she gave the im- 
pression of a child who was about to 
be struck in the face, though others 
felt she looked calm, quite calm. 

Hensch chose a knite from his 
box, held it tor a moment, then 
raised his arm and threw. The knife 
struck beside her neck. He had 
missed — had he missed? — and we 
felt a sharp tug of disappointment, 
which changed at once to shame, 
deep shame, for we hadn't come out 
for blood, only for — well, something 
else; and as we asked ourselves what 
we had come for, we were surprised 
to see her reach up with one hand 
and pull out the knife. Then we saw, 
on her neck, the thin red trickle, 
which ran down to her shoulder; 
and we understood that her white- 
ness had been arranged for this mo- 
ment. Long and loud we applauded, 
as she bowed and held aloft the glit- 
tering knife, assuring us, in that way, 
that she was wounded but well, or 
well wounded; and we didn't know 
whether we were applauding her 
wellness or her wound, or the touch 
ot the master, who had crossed the 
line, who had carried us, safely, it 
appeared, into the realm of forbid- 
den things. 

Even a> we applauded she turnei.1 
and left the stage, returning a few mo- 
ments later in a long black dress with 
long sleeves and a high collar, which 
concealed her wound. We imagined 
the white bandage under the black 
collar; we imagined other bandages, 
other wounds, on her hips, her waist, 
the edges of her breasts. Black against 
black they stood there, she and he, 
bound now it seemed in a dark pact, 
as if she were his twin sister, or as if 
bt)th were on the .same side in a game 
we were all playing, a game we no 
longer understood; and indeed she 
looked older in her black dress, stern- 
er, a schoolmami or maiden aunt. We 
were not surprised when she stepped 
forward to address us again. 

"If any of you, in the audience, 
wish to be marked by the master, to 
receive the mark of the master, now 
is the time. Is there anyone.'" 

We all looked around. A single 
hand rose hesitantly and was in- 
stantly lowered. Another hand went 
up; then there were other hands, 
young bodies straining forward, ea- 
ger; and from the stage the woman 
in black descended and walked slow- 
ly along an aisle, looking closely, 
considering, until she stopped and 
pointed: "You." And we knew her, 
Susan Parker, a high school girl who 
might have been our daughter, sit- 
ting there with her face turned ques- 
tioningly toward the woman, her 
eyebrows slightly raised, as she 
pointed to herself; then the faint 
flush of realization; and as she 
climbed the steps of the stage we 
watched her closely, wondering what 
the dark woman had seen in her to 
make her be the one, wondering too 
what she was thinking, Susan Park- 
er, as she followed the dark woman 
to the wooden partition. She was 
wearing loose jeans and a tight black 
short-sleeved sweater; her reddish 
brown and faintly shiny hair was cut 
short. Was it for her white skin she 
had been chosen? or some air of self- 
possession.' We wanted to cry out: 
sit down! you don't have to do this! 
but we remained silent, respectful. 
Hensch stood at his table, watching 
without expression. It occurred to us 
that we trusted him at this moment; 
we clung to him; he was all we had; 
for if we weren't absolutely sure of 

him, then who were we, what i 
earth were we, who had allowi, 
things to come to such a pass? 

The wt)man led Susan Parker i 
the wooden partition and arrangi. 
her there: back to the wood, shou 
ders straight. We saw her run hi 
hand gently, as if tenderly, over tl 
girl's short hair, which lifted and fi 
hack in place. Then taking Susi 
Parker's right hand in hers, sli 
stepped to the girl's right, so that tl 
entire arm was extended against tl 
black partition. She stood holdii 
Susan Parker's raised hand in ht. i 
gazing at the girl's face — comfortii 
her, it seemed; and we observed th, 
Susan Parker's arm looked very whii 
between the black sweater and tl 
black dress, against the black wood i 
the partition. As the women gazed : 
each other, Hensch lifted a knife ai 
threw. We heard the muffled bang > 
the blade, heard Susan Parker's sh;ii 
little gasp, saw her other hand clene 
into a fist. Quickly the dark woma 
stepped in front of her and pulled oi 
the knife; and turning to us she raist 
Susan Parker's arm and displayed ft 
us a streak of red. TTien she reache 
into a pocket of her black dress an 
removed a small tin box. From tb 
box came a ball of cotton, a patch i 
gauze, and a roll of white surgic, 
tape, with which she swiftly boun 
the wound. "There, dear," we heai 
her say. "You were very brave." U 
watched Susan Parker walk with lov 
ered eyes across the stage, holding ht 
bandaged arm a little away from hi 
body; and as we began to clap, be 
cause she was still there, because si 
had come through, we saw her rai^ 
her eyes and give a quick shy smil 
before lowering her lashes and dt 
scending the steps. 

Now arms rose, seats creakc^ 
there was a great rustling and whi 
pering among us, for others were e; 
ger to be chosen, tt) be marked 1 
the master, and once again the dai 
woman stepped forward to speak. 

"Thank you, dear. You were vei, 
brave, and now you will bear th 
mark of the master. You will treasui 
it all your days. But it is a light marl 
do you know, a very light mark. Tl 
master can mark more deeply, t 
more deeply. But for that you mu 
show yourself worthy. Some of \' 


may already be worthy, but I will ask 
you now to lower your hands, please, 
for I have with me someone who is 
•ready to be marked. And please, all 
I of you, I ask for your silence." 

From the right of the stage stepped 
forth a young man who might have 
been fifteen or sixteen. He was 
dressed in black pants and a black 
shirt and wore rimless glasses that 
caught the light. He carried himself 
with ease, and we saw that he had a 
kind of lariky and slightly awkward 
beauty, the beauty, we thought, of a 
waterbird, a heron. The woman led 
him to the wooden partition and in- 
dicated that he should stand with his 
back against it. She walked to the 
table at the rear of the stage and re- 
moved an object, which she carried 
back to the partition. Raising the 
boy's left arm, so that it was extended 
straight out against the wall at the 
level of his shoulder, she lifted the 
iobject to his wrist and began fasten- 
ing it into the wood. It appeared to 
be a clamp, which held his arm in 
place at the wrist. She then arranged 
his hand; palm facing us, fingers to- 
gether. Stepping away, she looked at 
him thoughtfully. Then she stepped 
over to his free side, took his other 
hand, and held it gently. 

The stage lights went dark, then a 
reddish spotlight shone on Hensch 
at his box of knives. A second light, 
white as moonlight, shone on the 
boy and his extended arm. The other 
I side of the boy remained in darkness. 
I Even as the performance seemed 
to taunt us with the promise of dan- 
ger, of a disturbing turn that should 
not be permitted, or even imagined, 
we reminded ourselves that the mas- 
ter had so far done nothing but 
scratch a bit of skin, that his act was 
after all public and well traveled, that 
the boy appeared calm; and though 
we disapproved of the exaggerated ef- 
fect of the lighting, the crude melo- 
drama of it all, we secretly admired 
the skill with which the performance 
played on our fears. What it was we 
feared, exactly, we didn't know, 
couldn't say. But there was the kniie 
thrower bathed in blood light, there 
was the pale victim manacled to a 
wall; in the shadows the dark 
woman; and in the glare of the light- 
ing, in the silence, in the very 

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rhythm of the evetiinj,', the promise 
of entering a dark dream. 

And Hensch took up a knife aiul 
threw; some heard the sharp gasp of 
the hoy, others a thin cry. hi the 
whiteness of the light we saw the 
knife handle at the center of his 
hloody palm. Some said that at the 
moment the knife struck, the hoy's 
shocked face shone with an intense, 
almost painful joy. The white light 
suddenly illuminated the dark 
woman, who raised his free arm high, 
as if in triumph; then she quickly set 
to work pulling out the hlade, wrap- 
ping the palm in strips of gauze, wip- 
ing the hoy's drained and sweating 
face with a cloth, and leading him off 
the stage with an arm firmly around 
his waist. No one made a sound. We 
looked at Hensch, who was gazing af- 
ter his assistaiit. 

When she came hack, alone, she 
stepped forward to address us, while 
the stage lights returned to normal. 

"You are a hrave hoy, Thomas. You 
will not soon forget this day. And 
now I must say that we have time for 
only one more event this evening. 
Many of you here, I know, would like 
to receive the palm mark, as Thomas 
did. But 1 am asking something differ- 
ent now. Is there anyone in this audi- 
ence tonight who would like to 
make" — and here she paused, not 
hesitantly, hut as if in emphasis — 
"the ultimate sacrifice? This is the fi- 
nal mark, the mark that can he re- 
ceived only once. Please think it over 
carefully before raising your hand." 

We wanted her to say more, to ex- 
plain clearly what it was she meant 
hy those riddling words, which came 
to us as though whispered in our ears 
in the dark, words that seemed to 
mock us even as they eluded us — 
and we looked ahout tensely, almost 
eagerly, as if by the sheer effort of 
our looking we were asserting our 
vigilance. We saw rio hands, and 
maybe it was true that at the very 
center of our relief there was a touch 
of disappointment, but it was relief 
nonetheless; and if the entire perfor- 
mance had seemed to be leading to- 
ward some overwhelming moment 
that was no loiiger to take place, still 
we had been entertained by our 
knife thrower, had we not, we had 
been carried a long way, so that even 

as we questioned his cruel art \ 
were ready to offer our applause. 

"It there are no hands," she sa 
looking at us sharply, as if to see wh 
It was we were secretly thinkin 
while we, as if to avoid her gaz 
looked rapidly all about. "Oh: yes 
We saw it too, the partly raised ban 
which perhaps had always be( 
there, unseen in the half-darkeni 
seats, and we saw the stranger ris 
and begin to make her way slow 
past drawn-in knees and puUed-bai 
coats and half-risen forms. ^ 
watched her climb the steps of tl 
stage, a tall mournful-looking girl 
jeans and a dark blouse, with lot 
lank hair and slouched shouldei 
"And what is your name?" the da 
woman said gently, but we could n 
hear the answer. "Well then, Laui 
And so you are prepared to recei' 
the final mark? Then you must 1 
very brave." And turning to us si 
said, "I must ask you, please, to r 
main absolutely silent." 

She led the girl to the blaq 
wooden partition and arranged h 
there, unconfined: chin up, hany 
hanging awkwardly at her sides. Tl; 
dark woman stepped back and a| 
peared to assess her arrangement, a 
ter which she crossed to the back j 
the stage. At this point some of il 
had confused thoughts of calling ouj 
of demanding an explanation, bi 
we didn't know what it was u 
might be protesting, and in any ca: 
the thought of distracting Henscli 
throw, of perhaps causing an injur 
was repellent to us, for we saw th; 
already he had selected a knife. 
was a new kind of knife, or so u 
thought, a longer and thinner knif 
And it seemed to us that things wei 
happening Uni quickly, up there < 
the stage, for where was the spo 
light, where was the drama of a siu 
den darkening, but Hensch, even ; 
we wondered, did what he alwa^ 
did — he threw his knife. Some of i 
heard the girl cry i)ut, others wet 
struck by her silence, but wh; 
stayed with all of us was the absenc 
of the sound of the knife strikin 
wood. Instead there was a softt 
sound, a more disturbing sound, 
sound almost like silence, and soni 
said the girl looked down, as if i 
surprise. Others claimed to see in In 

face, in the expression of her eyes, a 
look of rapture. As she fell to the 
floor the dark woman stepped for- 
ward and swept her arm toward the 
knife thrower, who for the first time 
turned to acknowledge us. And now 
he bowed: a deep, slow, graceful 
bow, the bow of a master, down to 
his knees. Slowly the dark red cur- 
tain began to fall. Over- 
head the lights came on. 


.s we left the theater we agreed 
that it had been a skillful perfor- 
mance, though we couldn't help 
feeling that the knife thrower had 
gone too far. He had justified his 
reputation, of that there could be no 
question; without ever trying to in- 
gratiate himself with us, he had con- 
itinually seized our deepest attention. 
But for all that, we couldn't help 
feeling that he ought to have found 
»some other way. Of course the final 
:.act had probably been a setup, the 
girl had probably leaped smiling to 
her feet as soon as the curtain closed, 
:;though some of us recalled unpleas- 
lant rumors of one kind or another, 
!run-ins with the police, charges and 
countercharges, a murky business. In 
any case, we reminded ourselves that 
she hadn't been coerced in any way, 
none of them had been coerced in 
any way. And it was certainly true 
that a man in Hensch's position had 
every right to improve his art, to 
dream up new acts with which to 
pique curiosity, indeed such ad- 
vances were absolutely necessary, for 
without them a knife thrower could 
never hope to keep himself in the 
public eye. Like the rest of us, he had 
to earn his living, which admittedly 
wasn't easy in times like these. But 
when all was said and done, when 
the pros and cons were weighed and 
every issue carefully considered, we 
couldn't help feeling that the knife 
thrower had really gone too far. Af- 
ter all, if such performances were en- 
couraged, if they were even tolerat- 
ed, what might we expect in the 
: future? Would any of us be safe? The 
: more we thought about it, the more 
uneasy we became, and in the nights 
; that followed, when we woke from 
; troubling dreams, we remembered 
the traveling knife thrower with agi- 
I tation and dismay. h 


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— New York Times Book Revieiv 

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"[Lyons] makes a Strong 
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most politically charged case 
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recent American history.' " 
— The Atlantic Monthly 

"Lyons offers the first fully cred- 
ible version of what happened." 
— New York magazine 

"Lyons sounds like the last sane 
voice in the din of the asylum." 

— The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

"Lyons doesn't claim that the Clin- 
tons never did anything wrong, but 
he convincingly shows that many 
[Whitewater] charges against them 
are exaggerated, politically motivated 
or flat-out wrong." 
— The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer 

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uncomfortable reading for the management of the 
T!T7ie,s and for other big-time media." 

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New York Times ..." 
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H A 

r> I V 

R P E R 


■ S M A Q A Z I TV h 




The public library as entertainment center 

B}' Sallie Tisdale 


en I entered the li- 
brary as a child, I walked up 
several imposing steps to a 
door of respectful size, through 
a small foyer — and through 
the looking glass. The librari- 
an's large desk stood guard 
over the small building, 
braced by books on three 
sides. The rooms were close, 
filled with big, heavy tables 
that had dictionaries open on 
reading stands; tall, sweet- 
smelling, precarious shelves; 
leather armchairs; rubber- 
coated wheeled stepstools; and 
other readers, silent and ab- 
sorbed. They formed an open 
maze through which I thread- 
ed myself, hour after hour. 

This was a place set outside the or- 
dinary day. Its silence — outrageous, 
magic, unlike any other sound in my 
life — was a counterpoint to the inte- 
rior noise in my crowded mind. It 

Sallie Tisdale is a contrihutinfi editor 
of Harper's Magazine and the authur 
o/Talk Dirty to Mt: An Intimate Philo.s- 
ophy of Sex (1994). Her last article for 
the magazine, "Never Let the Locals Sec 
Your Map," appeared in the September 
1995 issue. 

was the only sacred space I knew, in- 
timate and formal at once, hushed, 
potent. I didn't need to be told 
this — I felt it. In the library I could 
hunker down in an aisle, seeing only 
the words in my lap, and a stranger 
would simply step over me and bend 
down for his own book with what I 
novi/ think of as a rare and touching 
courtesy. That place was then, and 
remains, the Library; what Jorge Luis 
Borges knew all along was more than 
that: it was "the Universe (which 

others call the Library)." 
Only outside the door, on 
the steps, did one take a 
deep breath, blink at the 
sudden light, pause to shift 
the weight of new books in 
one's arms, and go out again 
into the world. 

I am disabled by this 
memory. I still show up at 
ten in the morning at the 
central branch of the Mult- 
nomah County Library, in 
Portland, Oregon, where I 
now live, impatient for the 
doors to open. I always find 
people ahead of me, waiting 
on the wide stone steps, and 
I wait with them, knowing 
better. The library I knew, the one I 
remember, is almost extinct. 

In the last few years I have gone 
to the library to study or browse or 
look something up, and instead have 
found myself listening to radios, cry- 
ing babies, a cappella love songs, 
puppet shows, juggling demonstra- 
tions, CD-ROM games, and cellular 
telephone calls. ("It's okay, I'm just 
at the library," 1 heard a man say re- 
cently.) Children run through the 
few stacks still open to patrons, spin- 

Photo illustrnriiin hy Jc-a-niy Wolff 


nint; carts and pLillin,u biuiks otf 
shel\(.'.s, i^iicired by parents i^lccp in 
i.on\orsatu>n uiih one another. A 
teenager RollerMailes through, play- 
ini; eraek-the-wlup i^y s\\inf,'inj^ him- 
self around the ot the shelves. I 
browse (with considerably less fre- 
quency than a to\v years ago) to the 
sound ot librariaiis on the telephone, 
aryuinL;, calling to one another 
across the room. Patrons hum alon^:; 
with their earphones, stand in line 
tor the Internet screens, clackety- 
clack on keybtnirds. Silence, even a 
mild sense ot repose, is lonf^ ).;one. 
Today's library is, up-to-date, 
plu^^c^l ni, and most definitely not 
set outsule the ordinary day. It's a 
hi|\ tun place, the library. You can 
i^et mo\ies there and Nintendo 
i^ames, ^Irink c.ippuccmo and >urt cy- 
berspace, ,l;o to ,1 L;itt sho|i or a cafe- 
teria, rent a sewin;.; machine or a 
camera. There is a library in a Wi- 
chita supermarket and a Cde\eland 
shoppini; mall. But the way thinus 
are .uohil;, in a lew years it's ^oiiiL; lo 
be har^l to tell the (.litterence be- 
tween the library and any- 
ihin!.;, evervthiny, else. 


_;.nn and ai^aui, lor more than 
150 years, the publii. library has en- 
durcLl a cycle ot crisis and chani.;e, a 
ct")nrinual c^>nfiision i>\er purpose. 
E\'ery tew decades the cry has yone 
up: too few people ^l^e libraries, too 
many people .ue rehutant to read, 
intimiLl.ited by books, ignorant of all 
that the library otters. .And then a 
new campaign begins to draw more 
people into the librarx, to do more 
things tor l,irL;er numbers— -to be, m 
many ot these campaigns, all things 
to all. We're in the lUKlst of one ot 
these campaigns ioda\ . The public li- 
brar\ ot ihc l.l^t dee.ide li.i'- been 
pushed and pulled b\ protesMonal li- 
br.irians .md b\ i^olicx m.ikeis ri'- 
sponsiw to the trend ot the times. 
(dianyiiiL; .md oftentimes shrinkiii'^ 
t,i\ b.ises, L;ro\\ inu |iopul,ii!on> of im 
miLir.uits ,i> well ,is rootless .Amen- 
cms, the Internet and r.ipidb exob-^ 
uVl: CdVROM technolot:\ all ha\e 
IkkI their etfeits on the [niblic li 
brar\. Boiub p,i>s; new are 
built, ,ind old ones are reno\-ate>.l; 
computer >\stems ,ire bought .md up- 
Lzradckl; collections .ire sorted, dis- 

carded, and replaced; directors are 
tired and hired — all out of si^ht ot 
the patrons hurrying in on their 
lunch hour. 

There .ue almost 9,000 [niblic li- 
braries in the United States, used 
each year by about two-thirds of the 
.klult population. Both as a physical 
place in a C(immunity aiul as a sym- 
bol ot the .American aspira- 
tion, the library is familiar, muiidane, 
taken largely tor granted, perhaps be- 
cause it is, as government iristitutions 
gi>, remarkably efficient. Public li- 
braries cost about $19.16 per person 
aniuially, and although this expense 
has increased by more than 90 per- 
cent since 1982, it in>netheless ac- 
ciiunts tor less than one percent of all 
tax mofiies. Library money is iii a 
N'olatile state, up in one region antl 
lIowii in aiiother, new buildings going 
up and old buildings being renn)deled 
even as branches are being closcvl, 
staff reduced, and hours curtailed. 
Major libraries are being built or re- 
modeled in Cincinnati; Cleveland; 
Portland, C')regon; Chicago; San 
Francisco; Los Angeles; Little Rock; 
Rochester, New York; Charleston, 
South (Carolina; ani.1 (."'klahoma City. 
New York C'ity just i>pened a new 
Science, Industry, and Business Li- 
brary. The famously popular Balti- 
more libraries have had big budget 
cLits. Last year, the Los Arigeles City 
library system had a policy that 
would ha\e allowed, with some re- 
strictions, .myone donating a million 
dollars to have a library iiamed after 
him or her. There were no takers. 
The central branch here in Mult- 
nom.ih County is being remodeled M 
.1 cost ot about ,$25 million. Mean- 
while, halt of the branches are going 
to be closed for Lick ot funds. 

The argument about a librar\ 
IS tor — what a library is — began its 
lengtlu i-ultural play with Ben 
Franklin, more than 100 years ago. 
When Franklin donated a collection 
ot 1 \ti books to the e(\>n\mous town 
ot Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1790, 
thereb\' fouiuFng the first public li-\ ot any sort m the Dnite^l States, 
he s.iid that his purpose was to ser\'e 
"a Society ot intelligent respectable 
Farmers, such as our Country Peciple 
gener.illy consist ot." The moneye^l 
class, after .ill, .ilre.idy h.ul pri\'ate 

suKscription libraries. Franklin's n. 
tion of un)derately equal opporturii 
otteni.led some ot the townspeopl 
and it was more than two acriiih 
niiHis years before the town meetii 
voted to accept the proposition, 
was another forty-three years beto 
the first tax-supported library w 
fiMinded in New Flampshire, and n> 
until the Bostiin Public Libr.n 
opened in 1852 did the library as y 
know it today begin. Public librari 
didn't really multiply until the eai 
twentieth ceiitury, when Andre 
Carnegie donated $56 million ft)r tl 
construction of 2,509 library buik 
ings throughout the country. 

Franklin hoped reading would in 
prove peiiple's "conversation 
Carnegie saw libraries partly as 
means of social improvement ti 
"the best and most aspiring pooi 
Chicagt) librarian William F. Pool 
in a massive government report 
sued in 1876, saw libraries as "tl 
adjunct and supplement of the cor 
num school system" and a source 
"moral and intellectual improv 
ment" tor adults. Michael Harr 
then a professor of library science 
the University of Kentucky, claimi 
in 1973 that libraries were conscioi 
ly intended by the upper classes 
tools tor the assimilation and Ame; 
canization of immigrants, for "disc 
plinirig the masses," who ofte 
seemed intent on recreation rath 
than social ujilift. At various tim 
libraries ha\e been said to exist f 
the active reader, the amateur scK 
ar, the educated citizen, the uned 
cated citizen, the illiterate poor, tl 
elderly, the schoolchild, and tl 
^lime-store-no\el lo\'er — all alik 
and sometimes all at once. 

The current trend in libraries is 
di^ away with all that refinement 
fawir ot a more familiar atmosphei 
Libraries, 1 was told recently, used 
be "discouraging — discouragii 
places to work, and discouraging 
learn in." (The woman who said tl 
has retired from library service to a 
as a technology consultant.) That 
never telt this way — that I am deep 
discouraged by the library today — 
simply proof, 1 suppose, that 1 am o 
o( touch. She meant that librari 
were discouraging becaiise they we 
c]uiet, because yoLi were expected 

H.AIU'I K'SM.\1'..\/1NM ',\1.\K01I l^i^'T 

^ehave respectfully toward other 
readers, because they were, 
as she put it, "about books." 


lave written to my library ad- 
ministration with various suggestions 
and complaints over the years. Last 
'ear I complained about the CD- 
lOM dinosaur game in my small 
)ranch. Two children argued over 
he game while it played at full vol- 
ume; my browsing that afternoon was 
lone to the shrieks of both T. rex 
iind the siblings. The deputy director 
esponded to my letter by saying that 
]!D-ROM games are "attractive to 
hildren that [sic] are reluctant read- 
-rs, reluctant library users, and reluc- 
ant students. . . . We are pleased that 
hey are enjoying this new way of 
iresenting information." This is a 
;;urprisingly quaint emphasis, often 
Tied, often abandoned. Campaigns 
increase the number of patrons by 
(!)ffering recreation have failed as 
lurely as attempts to direct them 
way from popular fiction and toward 
the classics. "The progressive library 
:5 a fisher of men," wrote a librarian 
n 1909. "And it will catch them 
/hether it baits its hook with hooks, 
ausic, pictures or lectures." Or, later 
ri the century, with social work, con- 
erts, handicraft classes, dances, par- 
ies, and athletic meets. Or, as is be- 
ag tried now, with dinosaur games 
nd the Internet. 

Perhaps the Internet is the big se- 
ret, the one seduction librarians 
lave sought for centuries. Certainly 
■:'s the one form of recreation that 
«ems to draw nonreaders to the li- 
rary again and again. Wherever In- 
srnet connections are offered — and 
Imost half of American public li- 
braries provide them now — they are 
•enormously popular. ' In a sense the 
- brary fs made more popular by the 
ddition of Internet stations and CD- 

The Internet throws all librarians and pa- 
'ons back to the arguments made in 
ranklin, Massachusetts. What does equal 
ccess mean on the Internet? Librarians 
ave always exerted control over which 
ooks to buy, where to shelve them, how to 
italog them, what to keep off open stacks, 
hould librarians exert any control over 
ihich sites are reached on the Internet, and 
y whom, and for how long,? Will libraries 
buy" every Internet address when they've 
zver bought every book? 


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ROM games. A free showing of Inde- 
fyendence Day would bring a big surge 
in attendance, too. But it wouldn't 
mean that a whole bunch of people 
had suddenly become library patrons, 
unless (and this is what I fear) the 
word "library" has ceased to mean 
much at all. The Internet/CD-ROM 
trend becomes essential to libraries 
only wheii we want libraries to be 
changed iii an essential way. 

In 1978 a committee of the Ameri- 
can Library Association released a 
stirring statement about what the li- 
brary owed the nation: "All in/orma- 
tion must be available to all people in 
all formats purveyed through all com- 
munication channels and delivered at 
all levels of comprehension. . . . All in- 
formation means all information." 
This amazing concept didn't simply 
disappear in a rush of laughter, as one 
might expect. Its progeny are every- 
where: disappearing shelf space re- 
placed by computer terminals, entire 
book collections thrown out for being 
archaic, an embrace of every myth 
about the Internet ever told. A recent 
story in Time describing Microsoft's 
$3 million grant to the Brooklyn Pub- 
lic Library for Internet connections 
makes the insupportable claim that 
"more knowledge comes down a wire 
than anyone could ever acquire horn 
books." More data, perhaps, but 
knowledge? That a journalist could 
mistake one for the other is telling. 

I find today's library literature 
strangely infatuated, unquestioning, 
reflecting a kind of data panic, and 
filled with dire fantasies of patrons 
left behind — woebegone hitchhikers 
on the information superhighway. A 
press release from the U.S. National 
Commission on Libraries and Infor- 
mation Science says that communi- 
ties without library Internet connec- 
tions will become "information 
have-nots." The emblematic image, 
continually evoked as reason enough, 
is the "schoolchild doing research," 
who shouldn't he stuck with stodgy 
print encyclopedias or forced to 
browse through the stacks and read 
books — nt)t when screens and CD- 
ROMs abound, not when search en- 
gines and keywords can do the brows- 
iiig for her. Says an ALA press release 
touting the virtues of the electronic 
resource, "Instead of tracking down 

volumes on the shelves, students c. 
press a computer key and read the i 
formation they need on the screen, 
some cases, complete with sound ;ii 
moving images." Much of the prai 
for the library as an electronic-infi 
mation center presumes that we ,i 
headed toward an accelerated, sai 
rated vanishing point — and that ii 
the library's duty to make this as b 
as possible, and to make sure evci 
one is on board. To criticize such 
outlook is to be labeled a Ludditc 
spoilsport, a stick-in-the-mud. 

The reality of the electronic 
brary is painfully obvious to anyoi 
who has noted the national destrii 
tion of card catalogs.^ Almost ^ 
percent of urban libraries now n 
electronic catalogs, and many ha 
destroyed their cards, which repr 
sent decades of human labor and i 
genuity. My library system switch^ 
to an electronic catalog in the hi 
1980s; even now it's not complet 
Almost all the cards are gone, anc 
now have to pay ten cents a page f 
a computer printout. 

A few months ago I went to the 
brary to help my daughter get a bo(j 
about cheetahs. The computers we 
down. I wasn't surprised — annoye 
but not surprised. Repeated "upgra 
ings" have locked patrons out of tl 
catalog for as long as a week, aij 
slowdowns and freezes are commr 
This time, I asked a librarian to poi 
me toward the section for animals. 

"Doii't know," he said, and turn I 
to go. 

' Nicholson Baker, whose persuasive arti • 
m the October 14, 1996, issue of The N ■ 
Yorker delineated his deep-seated dislike ( 
the new San Francisco Public Library bui ■ 
ing, its administrators, and all it and tl i 
represent, is now suing the SFPL for ace ; 
to records documenting the destruction I 
more than 200,000 hooks. The library .■ 
mtnistration claims to have discarded ht 
that number of books , all for legitimate r, • 
sons. They also took 50,000 catalog ca < 
with notes written by patrons and mi 
them wall decorations. Ian Shoales wh 
last spring that the advent of electronic ca 
logs seems "as though some overenthusia: : 
bunch of bureaucratic technophiles ca ' 
striding purposefully out oj a focus grm , 
and decided to dump baby, bathwater, d 
els, and soap out the window. What d 
they replace them with? Icons of baby, ba ■ 
water, towels, and soap." (A good In 
though he doesn't mention the fact that ■ 
wrote this for Salon, an online magazine 

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"Can you tell me the classihcatiun 
number tor animals?" 1 asked. 

"Don't know," he said, nmre 
stonily this time. 

"Do you have a list ot Dewey deci- 
mal numbers I can k)ok at?" There 
were none posted that I could see. 

"I'll rini^ for the reference li- 
brarian," he said, and 


walked away. 

attended all hve days ot the most 
recent biannual Public Library Asso- 
ciation conventitin, held in March of 
1996 in Portland, Oregon, along 
with almost 6,000 other people. The 
PLA is part of the American Library 
Association, which claims 57,000 
members and an annual budget ot 
about $30 million. This larger body 
wanted Bill Gates to deliver the 
keynote address at its own conven- 
tion this year, but it ended up with 
Harvard law professor Charles Ogle- 
tree. The PLA keynote was given by 
Jack Valenti, president of the Motion 
Picture Association ot America. The 
theme was "Access for All." 

Wandering through the echoing 
exhibit hall ani.1 dozens ot panel dis- 
cussions and lectures broken up by 
private parties and confabs, I was 
struck first of all by the amount of 
time and space devoted to the Inter- 
net and its various permutations. 
There were panels on "Community 
Information on the Internet," "CD- 
ROM to Go," "Virtual Communi- 
ties," "Electronic Document Deliv- 
ery," "Taking Ci)ntrol ot the 
Internet," and "Internet job Search," 
to name but ,i tew.' The central 
theme of the exhibit hall was "The 

- / UYis eipCLially curuius ahuut the bi^ 
splashy exhibit put on by /AC, the Injurma- 
turn Access Company. /AC sells InfuTrac 
and SearchBank, systerns that allow patrons 
to print out jull-text magazine articles. I AC 
sells a fair portion of my uu'n work without 
my permission — in jact. in spite of my 
"cease-and-desist" letters. My own local li- 
brary ofjers patrons copies of cio^t'n.s of dif- 
ferent .sforic's I've written, at ter-i cents per 
pane; it boufiht the rigfit.s to sell my work 
fnm-i I AC. not from me. When 1 asked a 
salesman at the lAC booth about copy- 
rights, he leaned over C(mspiratorially and 
said, "Don't worry, ivc take care of all 
that." Later, when 1 attended several panel 
tii.scMssions on electronic Jocunic'nt delivery, 
problems with copyright and piracy went un- 

Future," and that future is in)t only 
elecrriinic but expensive. There were 
larger booths — and many o\ them — 
tor Internet-server systems costing 
several thousand dollars each, CD- 
ROM games and reference sources, a 
program called Dewey tor Windows, 
periodical-access systems, electnniic 
research programs, and cataloging 
systems. Just about everyone at every 
Kioth handed out business cards list- 
ing his or her Web site. 

Even in the tew discussions fo- 
cused on books and reading, the in- 
terest v\'as largely on genre fiction, 
and "read-alikes." A "read-alike" is a 
book "like" another — for the patron 
who says, "I love Judith Krantz and 
want to read something like that." 
In 1922, a few large libraries started 
readers' adviser services, in which 
patrons would check in with the ad- 
viser tor direction and follow pre- 
scribed reading lists. It wasn't a very 
popular prcigram. Today's readers' 
advisers are staffers familiar with the 
work ot certain ptipular authors and 
ready to recommend read-alikes. At 
one convention booth, I played 
with a computer program called 
NoveList, which contains 11,000 
plot summaries and "subject access" 
to 36,000 novels divided by title, 
genre, and plot. Type in Carrie by 
Stephen King, and NoveList tells 
you which bot)ks have matching "el- 
ements" — horror, female adoles- 
cents, high school proms, telekinetic 
murder. Choose a subject — say, "hor- 
ror, high school seniors" — and a list 
ot titles appears. Describe a plot — 
"high school senior murders entire 
class at prom" — and the program 
tells you it any such book has been 

Duncan Smith, NoveList's creator 
and salesman, watched me play. 
Smith is himself a librariaii, soft-spo- 
ken and, like almost every salesman 
at the PLA, carefully and conserva- 
tively dressed. "NoveList assumes that 
treL|uently people can tell you they've 
read a book and liked it, but they 
can't tell you why," he told me. "We 
don't want the reader to have to do 
the hard wcirk ot tiguring that out." 

The many disadvantages ot elec- 
tronic reading and learning have 
been dealt with in detail elsewhere; 
so have the myria^l pragmatic and fi- 

nancial problems of a wholesale >!: 
to electronic documentation. Oiu 
the mo^t interesting aspects ot i 
day's library is how completely th> » 
disadvantages are being ignon. 
Shiny exhibits and chirping scree 
teed the erroneous belief that eK 
tronic delivery is the best form t 
both information and ideas, and ti 
ther seduce people into belie\ u 
that the technology needed to bin 
a truly electronic library is e\\ 
available now — let alone reliable, 
tordable, and tested. 

Books are expensive objects, b 
their cost is small when compan 
with the real costs of electron 
"delivery" ot the same kind oi in 
terial. Beyond the original costs 
hardware, sottware, installatio 
and training — and the ongoii 
costs of replacing all this equi 
ment, given the rapid obsolescen 
of electronic technology — there ;: 
the much higher losses possil 
with vandalism and theft and fl 
costs of significant staffing chan<j 
to be considered. And no ii 
seems to mention the enormous c!^ 
pense — in mi>ney, technical se 
vice, and natural resources — 
printing out the information peof 
want to take ln)me. There are oth 
hidden costs as well, such as t 
need to train staff to teach patro 
how to use these tools, even wh 
staff budgets are being trimmed 
pay for the tools in the first plac 
Even something that seems at fi 
glance to be cost-effective, such 
a CD-ROM encyclopedia, has hi 
den costs. Only one person can i 
such a source at a time, because 
the "volumes" are bound togeth' 
and an entire computer static 
must therefore be dedicated to tlr 
one person's research. 

Once you buy the premise that i 
formation — and enicrtaimng intoriT 
tion — is the point, you have to b' 
the eL|uipment, e\'en it it is a Fau 
ian deal. The ALA has accepted a- 
other otter from Microsoft: $lu 
million to torty-one library systc- 
tor Internet and "multimea 
personal computers." An executi: 
with the ALA, in praise ot Bl 
Gates's altruism, says, "Toelay, acc^ 
to electronic information is noii 
luxury — it's a necessity." 1 have m 


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my own future as a library patron: 
the expensive new central branch 
being built here will have hundreds 
of Internet stations, partly thanks to 
Microsoft, but it won't have a single 
quiet reading room. 

In their book Future Libraries: 
Dreams, Madness & Reality, Walt 
Crawford and Michael Gorman call 
the American library the "museum 
of failed technology." A recent sur- 
vey showed that patron use of on- 
line services was dropping, even as 
more and more libraries added sta- 
tions. The result of change for 
change's sake is obvious in every 
dusty microfiche reader and discard- 
ed box of eight-track tape. 

There are, of course, voices of 
moderation, among them Arthur 
Curley, director emeritus of the 
Boston Public Library. He sees a lot 
of potential in electronic media hut 
remains cautious. "The more limited 
your budget, the more important it is 
to acquire materials of lasting value," 
he told me recently. "I don't think we 
should be pioneers." Curley thinks 
the library building itself is an impor- 
tant symbol of the intellectual life. "I 
know it's a corny term, but it really is 
a beacon of hope. We want it to be 
beautiful and inviting; we 
want it to he a refuge." 


he new library is not only elec- 
tronic; a number of people hope it 
will be virtual, a "no walls" library, 
accessible by (and limited to) indi- 
vidual computers scattered through- 
out a community. We've seen this 
begin to happen, in workplaces and 
in a few schools, with entertain- 
ment: an isolating intrusion of false 
connectivity. But it is most alarming 
in the library, which 1 have always 
found one of the most tangible sanc- 
tuaries in society. Now it seems more 
and more something to be used from 
a distance, a place you don't have to 
go to — physical contact being, in the 
words of Kenneth Dowlin, the direc- 
tor of the San Francisco Public Li- 
brary, a notion "less viable in a net- 
worked instant access world." Like a 
lot of librarians, Dowlin is playing 
both sides of the issue; he's a leading 
proponent of the virtual library, but 
he's also ensconced in a brand-new 
$140 million building. 

Designed by James Ingo Freed and 
Cathy Simon, the new San Francis- 
co Public Library building, with its 
soaring empty spaces, limited book 
shelving, and computer terminals to 
spare, has been cited by Newsweek 
and other publications as state-of- 
the-art, the library of the future. I've 
only seen photographs, but a friend 
who visited recently said, in a 
stunned monotone, "That building 
was designed by someone who hates 
books. Who hates books." 

Perhaps books are an archaic 
concept in mainstream American 
culture. Certainly a lower percent- 
age of library budgets is spent on 
materials now than in 1950, and 40 
percent of that is spent on technol- 
ogy, not books. One of the first bud- 
get items cut when money gets tight 
in a library is new acquisitions, and 
the first books done without are 
those labeled "assumed or potential 
use" — hooks by unknown authors, 
archaic popular novels and reference 
materials, obscure historical works, 
and so on. Dollars are finite, and 
every library must make choices. 
Certain libraries, such as the New 
York and Boston public libraries, 
because they are relatively well 
funded, have always been "libraries 
of last resort," source libraries with 
the broadest and deepest possible 
collections. By contrast, a small 
branch outside Iowa City may large- 
ly provide interlibrary loans, com- 
munity information, and introduc- 
tory materials. But in both cases, 
the question of what a library is for 
must be asked. Should libraries be 
market-driven? Or do they have an 
intrinsic value that can be held up 
to the community at large, regard- 
less of profitability and popularity? 
When such values prevail, hooks 
rarely read are seen as books with- 
out value. Then libraries must be 
above all good businesses, anticipat- 
ing the trends and dumping last 
year's fashions. Critical acclaim, es- 
oteric detail, revisionism, experi- 
mental styles, controversial and un- 
conventional points of view, and, in 
the end, literary depth itself are re- 
garded as matters of no importance. 
Library development is meant to 
happen "just in time, not just in 
case" — that is, materials are bought 

"on demand." The quality of marki 
demand, of course, adheres large 
to mainstream tastes, and what tl 
mainstream demands these days 
the World Wide Web and Mkha. 

Midway through the PL